CEO Michael Dell: Being a Private Company 'Just Delightful'

Two months after closing the $25 billion deal to take his company private, Michael Dell talks about the cloud, PCs and being free of Wall Street.

AUSTIN, Texas—It was a confident, upbeat and energized Michael Dell moving about the Dell World 2013 show here this week. Addressing the thousands of customers, partners, analysts and journalists as the chairman and CEO of his newly private company, Michael Dell sounded like a man relieved to be rid of the pressures of Wall Street and shareholder scrutiny and eager to get going on building a Dell that will be a competitive enterprise IT solutions and services provider. Throughout the day Dec. 12, he spoke often about being able to "accelerate our strategy," "make bold moves" and "focus 100 percent on the customer."

It wasn't easy getting to this point. Michael Dell announced in February that he and financial backer Silver Lake Partners wanted to take the almost $60 billion company private, but it took seven months of battling investors led by Carl Icahn for control of Dell—as well as bumping the price up to about $25 billion—before shareholders finally voted in favor of the deal. Now Michael Dell owns about three quarters of Dell, with Silver Lake owning the rest.

With the sale behind them, the CEO and other company executives continue to transform Dell from a PC maker to an IT solutions provider. At the show, the vendor started to clarify its cloud strategy; unveiled new storage, networking and software offerings; and put more money toward investing in both in-house development and up-and-coming technology companies.

During the show, Michael Dell sat down with eWEEK to talk about what going private will mean to his company and its customers, how he views Dell's role in the competitive cloud market and why PCs will remain an important part of the vendor's strategy.

You've talked a lot about what going private will mean for your company. What can corporate customers and service providers expect to see? How will it benefit them?

We can focus 100 percent on our customers so we don't have to focus on other things, shareholders, and that allows us to make bold decisions, invest for the long term. I think Dell World is a pretty good demonstration of the start to that in terms of the kind of things that we're doing. We innovate across a lot of spaces on behalf of our customers, and having the freedom to do that without this 89-day planning cycle is just delightful with a business with the scale of ours.

Customer reaction has been very positive, business has been up double digits since we went private, so customers are throwing orders our way at a rapid rate. We're really thrilled with the results.

When you talk about an end-to-end solutions strategy, that puts you in greater competition with HP, IBM, Oracle and Cisco. Some analysts have said these companies have a broader offering. Why should people choose Dell over any of those vendors? What is it that you can offer that these companies can't?

If you look at the last 30 years, we've been able to grow against those competitors because we've offered differentiated value and solutions that really matter, and we haven't had a legacy of things to protect. You think about the infrastructure space, where we're innovating in the data center and now we're extending that into software and services, we don't have mainframes or mini-computers to protect.