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Businesses The Almighty Buck Hardware

Dell Is Now a Private Company Again 151

Posted by timothy
from the back-to-the-dorms dept.
Gunfighter writes "StreetInsider.com reports that Dell, Inc. completed its go-private transaction by Michael Dell, Dell's Founder, Chairman and CEO, and Silver Lake Partners, a leading global technology investment firm. Stockholders will receive $13.75 in cash for each share of Dell common stock they hold, plus payment of a special cash dividend of $0.13 per share to stockholders of record as of the close of business on Oct. 28, 2013, for total consideration of $13.88 per share in cash. The total transaction is valued at approximately $24.9 billion."
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Dell Is Now a Private Company Again

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  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @12:58PM (#45270705)

    Shut it down [cnet.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CitizenCain (1209428)

      Well, yeah, except that Dell was right, in 1997, about what to do with Apple as a company that made computers.

      Of course, it turned out that shifting their core business model from making computers to making gadgets was an even better idea.

      • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:09PM (#45270857)

        Except for all the success they had with iMac, Powerbook G4, iBook before iPod

        • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @03:15PM (#45272295)

          Except those were NOT that successful, and those were precisely the computers Dell was talking about and which were sinking Apple at the time.

          Jobs vision was that he had to stop relying on desktop computers because he was clearly losing that war in spite of a few partially successful products. His vision saved the company by moving to gadgets, and letting the computer side play catch up. Jobs pretty much followed Dell's advice, pulling almost all the R&D money away from computers. He shit-canned his own operating system, went out and grabbed FreeBSD, Konqueror, and Cups, and packaged it to keep the faithful happy while the real effort went into the iPhone.

          Only his pride prevented him from killing off the computer line altogether.

          • by zieroh (307208) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @03:47PM (#45272587)

            Your grasp of history is weak, or perhaps just willfully ignorant. Michael Dell uttered those words in late 1997. The iMac was announced in 1998.

          • by mcrbids (148650)

            Just a slightly MAJOR detail: Jobs didn't "shit-can his own operating system" - he adopted it. See, he was the CEO of NeXT, a high-end BSD-based workstation vendor.

            What he did was ADOPT NeXT's OS, putting a Mac compatibility wrapper and refine the UI so it was "Mac-like": OSX was born.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:52PM (#45271397) Journal
        Strictly speaking, it's probably most accurate to say that Dell was right about Apple 1997 except that they'd just recently made; but not yet seen the payoff from, the choice to get Jobs and NEXT.

        Their "Hey, let's sell a confusing selection of increasingly antique PPCs in beige cases for increasingly risible prices, on the strength of our mostly-obsolete OS" strategy wasn't going anywhere, and would only have gotten worse as time went on (The price/performance of Wintels was improving, the sheer nastiness was decreasing (remember the good old days before bootable ATAPI CD drives and other basics? That's the kind of shit that made Apple's tendencies toward SCSI seem classy rather than merely expensive), and Apple's in-house attempt to modernize Classic MacOS was a miserable failure).
      • by dfghjk (711126)

        If you read the original interview, you would know better than to say this. Dell never "predicted" anything to be "right" about. Dell said he would return the money to stockholders as an example of why he would be a poor choice to lead the company. The rest is a bunch of fanboys jacking off over it.

      • by thoth (7907)

        Well, yeah, except that Dell was right, in 1997, about what to do with Apple as a company that made computers.

        Of course, it turned out that shifting their core business model from making computers to making gadgets was an even better idea.

        So therefore, Apple was able to shift focus without shutting down, meaning Dell was wrong?

    • by harperska (1376103) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @02:37PM (#45271877)

      There is a massive difference between taking it private and buying out the shareholders for the purpose of shutting it down, even if the first step looks the same on the surface. I have no idea what Mr. Dell is planning, but in general operating a business in a way that makes shareholders happy is not necessarily the best strategy for a technology company. Shareholders want to see the goods on a quarter-by-quarter basis, and if a particular quarter is down, the shareholders interpret that as a hiccup in the company's strategy and punish the stock accordingly. However, running a technology company requires a long-term view of the future, and a roadmap for how to get there. That roadmap may require some sacrificial quarters where emphasis is put into future R&D rather than maximizing current sales. If done properly, future awesome technology to come from that R&D more than makes up for a couple of flat quarters. But the markets don't see it that way. So the only way to be able to fully achieve the potential of the roadmap is to take the stock market out of the equation.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        you can just remove every instance of the word "technology" from your statement.

        Wall street only cares about this quarter. six, twelve, twenty four months down the line is far to long for Wall street. Wall street is a legal form of gambling and nothing else. real investors who actually want companies to plan for the future stay away.

        Take a look at Iridum. it took several bankruptcies before it became profitable. however if you look back at the original plans iridum still became profitable at roughly the

        • Very true about it not just applying to technology companies. A really good example I have mentioned before on /. that is even farther removed from the tech sector is JC Penny. Their radical plan of no-nonsense pricing was a good idea (prices in whole dollar amounts rather than $x.99 bs, as well as reasonable everyday prices as opposed to artificially inflated prices with periodic "sales" to trick consumers into thinking they're getting a good deal) which could have really paid off if given enough time for

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      No surprise to see this inflammatory and grossly misleading article quoted here, from the usual suspect of course. SuperKendall is incapable of anything else.

    • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @02:50PM (#45272005) Homepage Journal

      As much as it's fun to make fun of him now, there are 2 things to remember: 1) Apple was in pretty bad shape in 1997 -- a year before the iMac, 4 years before the iPod. 2) He's the CEO of the competition -- what would you expect him to say? "They're in trouble, but Steve is a great guy, he's done some creative things in the past, they should stay the course, work hard on making great products, and maybe someday they'll wipe up the floor with us!"

      It's not like he's the only CEO to ever do this.

      Exhibit A:

      Clark is not afraid to publicly dis a company like Apple, much as Steve Jobs once mocked IBM.

      "Apple," Jim Clark will sigh, as if he were talking about a horse on its way to the glue factory. "They're not doing anything... Apple blew it."

      Then, with a dismissive wave of his hand, and just the hint of a grin: "I think they're in serious trouble."

      -- SGI founder & chairman Jim Clark in Wired, 1994 [wired.com]

      Exhibit B: Steve Ballmer laughing at the iPhone [youtube.com]

      His complaints about the iPhone were somewhat valid at the time, but 1) he forgot that people WILL pay for a good product, and 2) if he wasn't aware of how Apple refined the iPod over the previous six years -- making it better and cheaper every year -- he's dumb as a rock. Oh wait, he was aware: [softpedia.com]

      Business Week: How much money will you lose per Zune?

      Ballmer: None. Apple put the hammer down there, dropped the price down to $249. If they had been $299, it would have been nicer. They have the advantage of scale. So we're at $249, too. We don't make a lot of money, not to start out.

      So I just mark that down to "standard CEO bluster." Or maybe he really was that stupid.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:05PM (#45270795)
    October 6, 1997, Michael Dell was asked what he would do to fix Apple. His answer, "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders". Well Dell has returned money to his shareholders. The Smartphone and Tablet industry will take care of the shutting-down-Dell part in due time.
    • by sqrt(2) (786011)

      Enterprise customers still need millions of new workstation traditional desktops/laptops every few years. They're especially big in the medical and education markets where tablets and smart phones don't make sense.

      If anything, it's MS with their abhorred Windows 8 that's threatening Dell's traditional business success. Luckily, Windows 7 will be around until 2020.

      • Windows 8.1 does a pretty good job of making Windows almost usable again. I still don't "get" the whole touch interface on touchless monitors, but it should be more usable for people with touchscreen laptops.

        Don't get me wrong, it is still very clunky in places, and changes who slew things just to move things around. I mean "shut down computer" is now in "settings", which completely baffles me.

        • Usable. If you like two interfaces to do one thing.

          It's also just fugly.

          • "almost usable" means "not really usable"

          • I'm in a real quandry here with the whole windows 8 thing; as a programmer I have no use for a touch screen so windows 8 is absolutely useless to me. On the other hand Microsoft used to get castigated for not innovating. So is the touch screen not the interface of the future, or did Microsoft simply blow it? I'm no fan, but the deal kind of smells like "damned if you do, damned if you don't."
            • They simply blew it.

              Try this.

              1. From regular ie old desktop, mouse to lower right corner, click settings. You can get to control panels.
              2. From Metro ie new desktop, mouse to lower right corner, click settings. You get PC settings ie personalization control panel.

              -1 for consistency.

      • Dell also has an IT services arm that could do well over the long term.

    • by DogDude (805747)
      The Smartphone and Tablet industry will take care of the shutting-down-Dell part in due time.

      My business runs on computers, not toys. People will need actual PC's for a long time to come. Very few people need gadgets.
      • by JoeyRox (2711699)
        I agree but the question is whether a company the size of Dell can sustain their business in its current form/size with only business customers. Plus with Intel only eeking out 10% performance gains between processor generations there isn't much impetus for business to upgrade very often, if at all.
      • by rk (6314)

        I heard this from mainframe and midrange people 20+ years ago. I'll bet they heard it in the 60s and 70s from people who said their businesses ran on paper, not machines. Since mainframes and paper are still around and doing fine, you're half-right, but those people missed the boat on the revolutions of their time, dismissing them as "toys" and fads just as you have dismissed tablets and smartphones. Those toys are more powerful than the desktops of 10 and in some cases just 5 years ago.

        I agree that nothing

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        You sort of have the answer. It's all how bean counters see the numbers. Back around 2000, the bulk of sales where desktop and notebooks, not gadgets now toys, whilst that was the bulk of the market, in reality it was not the bulk of the possible market, those people still not regularly buying computers.

        Now shift forward to now and sales for desktops and notebooks have stagnated, not because they are losing but because they have saturated their market, no growth. Now smart phones and tablets are selling

    • Yeah, but he was a competitor. It was a bald-faced competitor thing to say at the time, and a little dumb, but I don't fault him for it. Now he has a huge opportunity to buy back his old company, give it a little "Dell Magic", and sell the whole useless lot off for a huge profit. If that's what he does, he's simply being smart and I would do the exact same thing in his shoes.
      • by dfghjk (711126)

        People love to make up crap about which they know nothing. Dell was never a competitor of Apple and they never considered themselves such. Never.

    • In 1997 I would have closed down Apple too. The company was a wreck.
    • by unixisc (2429386)

      October 6, 1997, Michael Dell was asked what he would do to fix Apple. His answer, "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders". Well Dell has returned money to his shareholders. The Smartphone and Tablet industry will take care of the shutting-down-Dell part in due time.

      Michael Dell's comment was made when Apple was having problems getting any native fully multitasking OS out for their PowerMacs, and bleeding red ink as a result, and going from one strategy to another - one day System 7 (emulated), another day Copeland, another day Pink/Taligent (anyone remember that?), another day BeOS and finally the acquisition of NEXT. What Apple would do later was beyond what was then foreseeable. And by the time Apple did get OS X out, Windows NT had won the battle for the desktop,

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      Dell was not asked what he'd do to fix Apple, he was asked what he'd do if he were CEO of Apple. Big difference. Dell responded that he would be a poor choice for CEO. Naturally, you don't remember this or care to know any differently. It would put a dent in the smugness.

      Nice to see all the "Interesting" comments on a Dell topic involving Apple. Par for the course.

      • by JoeyRox (2711699)
        I don't follow why you believe there is a distinction. If Dell were made the CEO of apple he'd be asked to fix it's problems. There, distinction gone.
  • Not bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by postmortem (906676) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:09PM (#45270849) Journal

    Dell has one less thing to worry about: quarterly profits and revenue. This is right thing for struggling or declining companies. "analysts" won't bug them every moth how their market is shrinking and sales declining. Bet employees will feel safer too without threats of layoffs every time they don't meet "expectations"

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're right except for the part about layoffs. Layoffs aren't driven by stock prices, for the most part they're driven by internal numbers. This is how a profitable company can justify laying off workers that just aren't productive or at least productive enough. A company may use their decline in stock value as an outward indicator of why they're laying people off to the public but those decisions were made behind closed doors well in advance of any public knowledge.

      A CEO and his board don't wake u

      • It took $24.9 Billion to buy up all of Dell's outstanding shares. That money had to come somewhere. So, right from day one, the new private Dell is nearly 25 Billion in debt. There will have to be major layoffs and other changes, such as selling off parts of the business.

        • Leverage (i.e. the debt to equity ratio) affects the volatility and risk of the equity holds. It has no effect on EBIT. Dell was also kicking out a lot of free cash so I don’t think there is going to be an issue on servicing the debt.

          If there are layoffs it’s not going to be to meet debt payments. It is because M. Dell wants to get out of the low margin commodity end of the market and move upscale into high end services. I have seen some hiring on that front.

        • by tomkost (944194)
          The company does not own those debts. Those are owned by the investors who bought the company and took ownership.
          • Re:Not bad (Score:5, Informative)

            by alexander_686 (957440) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:59PM (#45271471)

            Nope, those are corporate debt. It’s standard practice in a Leverage Buy Out. A close analogy is when you refi your house and pull cash out. The value of the house remains the same, your personal value remains the same (both assets and liabilities increase by the same amount) , it just your debt to equity ratio increases.

        • Rudy speaks the truth here.

          I'll even take it a few steps forward. Michael Dell has probably already collected a whole list of price quotes from entities offering to buy up these assets and that page of numbers adds up to at least a dollar more than $24.9 billion. He's going to slash jobs galore, then sell the valuable parts on Craigslist or Ebay.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A CEO and his board don't wake up one morning to a drop in stock price and scream "we need to lay people off, NOW!!" It's a bit more sophisticated than that even if you don't agree with the layoffs.

        Right. It's the boys from McKinsey break the news to the CEO that after camping out in the conference room for six weeks.

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Not just that, Michael Dell can now determine what Dell needs to be. Do they become the rebranded Perot Systems, and stop competing w/ the likes of Asus & Lenovo, or do they become the US edition of Acer & Lenovo? Looks like they'd do a lot better being the former, and just retiring their PCs & laptop biz, aside from maintenance & warranty contracts, and just focus on selling IT services
  • by Marrow (195242) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:13PM (#45270897)

    I mean, given the climate is there really a doubt there will be one?

    • What's so funny about this? Folks love IPOs. Wall Street loves them. The press get all excited, and pundit talking heads start squawking. Everybody thinks that they make money on an IPOs. Actually, probably the Wall Street folks end up making the most money on an IPO.

      I think Dell will just ride out the current bad weather in the PC business, and wait for blue skies, when everyone has forgotten why it went private in the first place

      Then do another juicy IPO. Most companies only do one money generatin

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Just what do you call an IPO that isn't actually the initial public offering? SPO?

    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      You beat me to it. As soon as they can get their lies together "Wall Street. Here we come." There's always money to be made on an IPO. At least for the insiders.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:19PM (#45270971) Journal

    since they are no longer bound to share-holders; and can innovate for the sake of innovation? No need to bow down to MS Overlords and do as they or the so-called markets please. They can afford to lose a billion bucks in chasing their own dreams.

  • ..though it may take a while to get there.

    Dell no longer has to worry about what happens in the next quarter or fiscal year. Instead of trying to maximize profit, they can start looking a few years down the road and make some investments that won't pay off for a while. They have a better ability to take risks without the threat of a shareholder lawsuit. Employees no longer have to wonder if there's going to be mass layoffs next month to boost the stock price by a percent. But in the meantime they have v

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:56PM (#45271445) Homepage
      I would love to see someone else copy Apple in one regard. Make less choices for the customer. There doesn't need to be 10 different desktop models, and 10 different laptop models. Apple has 3 desktops (mini, iMac and Mac Pro), while allowing the user to choose a few basic options like amount of RAM, hard drive space, and processor speed. And they have 2 models of laptops. Customers know exactly what they are getting with Apple, and they know when there's a new model available, because it only happens once a year. With Dell, and other PC manufacturers, there's tons of different models, nobody really knows how to compare one to the other, and you never know how old the current model is, and when the new model is coming out.
      • New models come out when intel releases a new processor architecture.

        the rest I agree with you about though.

      • While I agree they need fewer models than they currently have for sale, the optimal number is probably higher than what Apple has. Plus, they'd wan't to keep seperate lines for buisness and consumer for part availiblilty.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I would love to see someone else copy Apple in one regard. Make less choices for the customer. There doesn't need to be 10 different desktop models, and 10 different laptop models. Apple has 3 desktops (mini, iMac and Mac Pro), while allowing the user to choose a few basic options like amount of RAM, hard drive space, and processor speed.

        This is actually more confusing and not less, especially where the processor is soldered; there actually are more models of machine, but the model number doesn't appear on the front of the machine. It only appears on a sticker on its bottom or rear.

        With Dell, and other PC manufacturers, there's tons of different models, nobody really knows how to compare one to the other, and you never know how old the current model is, and when the new model is coming out.

        Who cares? You buy a new computer when you need a new computer, not when there's a new shiny. Only if selling your computers is based solely on how shiny it is will someone buy a new one every year whether they need it or not. Those people are always a minority,

  • This is a huge opportunity for Dell to become more than just a badge on custom OEM hardware, and start making innovative products. My impression is this is a tall order, they haven't really been an innovative company outside of direct sales and supply chains. Innovative products are not part of their DNA, and the inertia of existing mid-level managers will be difficult to overcome.

    TFA mentions they have a long term plan, but I've not even seen much speculation on what it is. Let the rumor mill churn.

    • by uncoveror (570620)
      Without having to turn tricks for the gamblers at the Wall Street Casino, maybe they will get back to caring about the customer. They have become the new IBM since Big Blue got out of small computers. They can be that forever if they don't screw it up, which they had been well on their way to doing.
  • With so many people predicting the death of laptops, servers, and workstations, to tablets and smartphones...despite how stupid such a claim is...I'd imagine that over the medium term the stock is substantially undervalued. If he did steps to revive things, stocks might go up, then he'd have to pay more. Now he can take bigger risks, change things more dramatically/dynamically, etc. Being in corporate america I just cannot see how anyone who does real work would ever try to do something on a tablet. The
  • Public corporations are automatically evil since the public shareholders are evil. Private company at least has a chance to be not evil.

  • How about making some quality workstation laptops for business users?

    We want:
    - Rock-solid build quality and screen hinges
    - Sturdy keyboards with standard 7-row layout (text nav 3x2 cluster, F key groupings, non-chiclet)
    - Stick mouse (clit mouse, whatever you want to call it) with actual buttons, not these bullshit buttons built into a trackpad
    - Understated, boxy designs (no flashy bullshit)
    - 4:3 screens (or, at least, 5:4)

    Lenovo has completely fucked up the ThinkPad l

    • by vux984 (928602)

      We want:

      I want some of that, but don't want it all.

      Rock-solid build quality and screen hinges

      I just want Mac book pro before they chased thiness to the oblivion of an ethernet connection.

      Sturdy keyboards with standard 7-row layout (text nav 3x2 cluster, F key groupings, non-chiclet)

      My desktop keyboard has 6 rows... including the function keys... what on earth are you putting on the 7th?

      If its going to have a number pad and text nav area then yes, they need to be correct. But I don't necessarily want them, t

      • My desktop keyboard has 6 rows... including the function keys... what on earth are you putting on the 7th?

        Count it, honkey! [xbitlabs.com] (consider the ESC and other keys aligned with it to be a "row") The important part here is the 3x2 text nav cluster in the top right and the F key grouping.

        If its going to have a number pad and text nav area then yes, they need to be correct. But I don't necessarily want them, they force the keyboard part to the left, and make working on it less comfortable. I want the f to the left of the center of the screen, and the j to the right.

        Whatever was wrong with the ultrabay keypad? Who ever uses optical drives anymore anyway?

        And one thing you didn't mention... I want, nay, DEMAND, that the slash/pipe be above a wider enter key, rather than besdie a double-high-narrow enter key. I will not buy a laptop with the latter arrangement. I just end up typing / evertime i want an enter.

        Forgot this one. Yes, this is absolutely critical. Those bullshit multilingual keyboards drive me to the point of homicidal fury.

        Though I have to say, the worst keyboard I've ever had the displeasure of using (I work on a lot of customer machi

        • by pne (93383)

          4:3 gets us awesome resolutions like 1400x1050 or 1600x1200.

          Word.

          I don't spend most of my computer time watching videos (wide-screen or no). I spend much of my time reading web pages or writing code, both of which profit from vertical resolution.

          What good is 1920x1080 if I can have 1600x1200? Those extra 120px vertical are of more use to me than the 320px horizontal.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @02:39PM (#45271899) Homepage

    Going "private", right. The money supposedly comes from Silver Lake Venture Partners. But they don't have $24 billion. Most of it is borrowed. From banks. Which borrow it from the Fed at very low rates. Which creates Government debt to pay for it.

    "Private equity" today is really equity to debt conversion. With interest rates so low, that's very attractive to management.

    This is "quantitative easing" at work.

  • by Megane (129182) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @02:54PM (#45272063) Homepage
    DUDE! You bought Dell!
  • This is a good move for Dell, provided they can adopt to this new market. Dell should focus on the back end of the cloud. They make good servers. They just need to cut off the consumer arm and let it drift into the ether. They lost the consumer market a long time ago and like IBM need to focus on what they (still) do well.

  • Man I hope there tech support improves. It's next to impossible to get anyone on the phone and I even have their Tech certification. Our company just switched to HP due to the cost and there horrible support.

  • I *still* can't easily buy a box with Ubuntu on it as a consumer.

    So screw them.

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