Dell Analyst Conference: The Importance of Going Private
In my work as an industry analyst during the past 15+ years, I’ve attended too many IT vendor events to count but it’s difficult to recall one similar to Dell’s Annual Analyst Conference (DAAC) hosted last week in Austin, Texas. That’s partly due to the way it contrasted with the previous event, which took place just months prior to Michael Dell’s eventually successful bid to take the company private.
Due to “quiet period” SEC requirements, company executives at DAAC 2013 weren’t at liberty to engage in open discussions. Plus, the privatization effort was clouded by a melodramatic, yet ultimately unsuccessful effort by investor Carl Icahn to derail the process. With those days fully and firmly behind them (and Icahn currently under investigation by the SEC for insider trading), Michael Dell and other company executives hit the stage at DAAC 2014 with an energy that bordered on giddiness.
Going Private Publicly
That’s where the singularity of this event became fully apparent. While financial performance is common currency when analysts meet with publicly held vendors, sessions with private firms typically address financial issues in only the vaguest of terms. That was the case with Dell, though the company did serve up a few interesting tidbits, including the fact that during its first six months as a private entity, Dell has retired $1B of the debt re-quired by the privatization.
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NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review.