Dell World 2014 is over, and the product announcements have been superseded by hundreds — thousands??? — of others, so what remains of last week’s event? I spoke with a number of executives, customers, partners and analysts during the conference, and the following is a sample of their thoughts, including whether there will ever be a Dell 4.0.
I asked a number of analysts about the prospects and potential timing of taking Dell public again, and the consensus was maybe when hell froze over, but don’t hold your breadth.
Charles King, Principal Analyst, Pund-IT: Concerning the possibility of Dell going public again, I’m not sure how you’d posit a timeline. I say that for two reasons:
1) The primary driversfor Dell going private in the first place (quarterly-driven expectations from financial analysts, investment poobahs and major shareholders) are systemic in today’s markets. Unless there’s a major financial meltdown that thoroughly discredits the market’s obsession with near term financial performance, going public again would simply drop the company back in the pressure cooker Michael Dell worked very hard to escape.
2) As the company’s largest shareholder, Michael Dell would have to vocally support any move toward public ownership. That isn’t an impossible but it would require a decision by him to recoup his shares in the company. There are scenarios where that would make sense–desiring to use those funds in different ways, personal or family issues that required a large infusion of cash, etc. But given Dell’s relative wealth and youth (remember, he hasn’t yet celebrated his 50th b-day), it seems unlikely to occur any time soon.
Dan Kusnetzky, Kusnetzky Group: The question that comes to mind is why would they go public once again? It is clear that Michael Dell isn’t all that fond of the reporting requirements and other restrictions imposed upon public companies. He appears to prefer the freedom privately held companies have to invest in projects and work on them for the long haul rather than being required to report on their progress on a quarter by quarter basis.
If Dell has found a way to get funding when the business needs capital, say for acquisitions, it is much less important to be a public company.
Mark Peters, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group: A miracle? Hell freezing over? I’m not being flippant – it is hard to imagine in any reasonable timeframe.
Rob Enderle, Enderle Group: I spoke to Michael Dell about this. He has no plan to go public again. He wants to continue private indefinitely. In fact the thought going public again was nuts given how much better the firm is running private.
Here’s a sampling of what Dell executives had to say during the event.
Jimmy Pike, VP/Senior Fellow, Chief Architect, Dell: If it [storage] was just about cost, it would be nothing but tape.
Bill Rodrigues, President, North America Commercial and Global Sales, Dell: To me, the most exciting thing, having ben her for 16 years, is to see the capabilities that we have today as a company that we didn’t have 7-8 years ago.
There is uniqe feeling among the team that we only have to focus on one thing, and the one thing is the customer. If we do the right thing by the customer, then they will vote with their dollars. That’s why we call the business I have the relationship business.
[One of two executive aids to IBM’s savior, Lou Gerstner, Rodrigues said he is fascinated by Michael’s grasp of what’s going on at Dell.] Even though he is the owner of the company… even though I know the business well… he expects me to know this because he knows the business even better than I do.
The other unique thing about him I really appreicate… any request I’ve ever had of him about a customer request, he’s never said no. When you have an owner of a $60 billion company, do you think they do that?
Jai Menon, VP and Chief Research Officer, Dell: We’re in the era of BYOD but we going to BYOT, Bring Your Own Thing.
Suresh Vaswani, President, Services, Dell: Transformation is not just about better, faster, cheaper… Dell’s approach is increasingly based on business results.
Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, VP and GM of Dell Servers re FX2: We’re taking what we’ve leaned and done with hyperscale partners and customers… to any customer of any scale.
Cheryl Cook, VP of Global Channels & Alliances, Dell re the new $125 million channel investment: What this means is we’re just reinvesting and doubling down on the incredible growth that we have had.
Our channel business is just on fire.
Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell: We’re the fastest growing IT company in the world.
We still believe the PC is how real business gets done!
To be in the end to end solutions business, you have to have both ends.
More and more of what we do is aimed at the business-line leader.