Michael Saul Dell (born February 23, 1965) is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and author. He is the founder and CEO of Dell Inc., one of the world’s leading sellers of personal computers (PCs). He was ranked the 41st richest person in the world on 2012 Forbes list of billionaires, with a net worth of US$22.4 billion as of December 2014.[1]

In 2011, his 243.35 million shares of Dell stock were worth $3.5 billion, giving him 12% ownership of the company.[2] His remaining wealth of roughly $10 billion is invested in other companies and is managed by a firm whose name, MSD Capital, incorporates Dell's initials.[3] On January 5, 2013 it was announced that Michael Dell had bid to take Dell Inc. private for $24.4 billion in the biggest management buyout since the Great Recession. Dell Inc. officially went private on October 29, 2013.[4]

Early life

Michael Dell was born in 1965 in Houston, to a Jewish family whose surname reflects the translation into English of the original German/Yiddish Thal ("valley" or "dale [q.v.]"; modern common-noun spelling Tal) upon the family's immigration to the United States.[5] The son of Lorraine Charlotte (née Langfan), a stockbroker,[6] and Alexander Dell, an orthodontist, Michael Dell attended Herod Elementary School in Houston.[7] In a bid to enter business early, he applied to take a high school equivalency exam at age eight. In his early teens, he invested his earnings from part-time jobs in stocks and precious metals.[8]

Dell purchased his first calculator at age seven and encountered an early teletype terminal in junior high. At age 15, after playing with computers at Radio Shack, he got his first computer, an Apple II, which he promptly disassembled to see how it worked.[9] Dell attended Memorial High School in Houston, selling subscriptions to the Houston Post in the summer. While making cold calls, he noted that the people most likely to purchase subscriptions were those in the process of establishing permanent geographic and social presence; he then targeted this demographic group by collecting names from marriage and mortgage applications. Dell earned $18,000 that year, exceeding the annual income of his history and economics teacher.[10]

Business career

A PC's Limited Turbo PC signed by Dell
Michael Dell lecturing at the Oracle OpenWorld, San Francisco 2010

While a freshman pre-med student at the University of Texas, Dell started an informal business putting together and selling upgrade kits for personal computers[11] in Room 2713 of the Dobie Center residential building. He then applied for a vendor license to bid on contracts for the State of Texas, winning bids by not having the overhead of a computer store.[12][13][14]

In January 1984, Dell banked on his conviction that the potential cost savings of a manufacturer selling PCs directly had enormous advantages over the conventional indirect retail channel. In January 1984, Dell registered his company as "PC's Limited". Operating out of a condominium, the business sold between $50,000 and $80,000 in upgraded PCs, kits, and add-on components. In May, Dell incorporated the company as "Dell Computer Corporation" and relocated it to a business center in North Austin. The company employed a few order takers, a few more people to fulfill them, and, as Dell recalled, a manufacturing staff "consisting of three guys with screwdrivers sitting at six-foot tables". The venture's capitalization cost was $1,000.[15][16]

In 1992, aged 27, he became the youngest CEO of a company ranked in Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 corporations.[17] In 1996, Dell started selling computers over the Web, the same year his company launched its first servers. Dell Inc. soon reported about $1 million in sales per day from dell.com.[18] In the first quarter of 2001, Dell Inc. reached a world market share of 12.8 percent, passing Compaq to become the world's largest PC maker. The metric marked the first time the rankings had shifted over the previous seven years. The company's combined shipments of desktops, notebooks and servers grew 34.3 percent worldwide and 30.7 percent in the United States at a time when competitor's sales were shrinking.[19]

In 1998, Dell founded MSD Capital L.P. to manage his family's investments. Investment activities include publicly traded securities, private equity activities, and real estate. The firm employs 80 people and has offices in New York, Santa Monica and London. Dell himself is not involved in day-to-day operations.[20] On March 4, 2004, Dell stepped down as CEO, but stayed as chairman of Dell Inc.'s board, while Kevin Rollins, then president and COO, became president and CEO. On January 31, 2007, Dell returned as CEO at the request of the board, succeeding Rollins.[21]


In July 2010 Dell Inc. agreed to pay a $100 million penalty to settle SEC charges[22] of disclosure and accounting fraud in relation to undisclosed payments from Intel Corporation. Michael Dell and former CEO Kevin Rollins agreed to pay $4 million each, former CFO James Schneider to pay $3 million to settle the charges.[22]


Accolades for Dell include "Entrepreneur of the Year" (at age 24) from Inc. magazine;[23] "Top CEO in American Business" from Worth magazine; "CEO of the Year" from Financial World, Industry Week and Chief Executive magazines. Dell also received the 2013 Franklin Institute's Bower Award for Business Leadership.[24]


Dell serves on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the executive committee of the International Business Council, the U.S. Business Council, and the governing board of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. He previously served as a member of the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.[25]


Dell's 1999 book, Direct from Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry, is an account of his early life, his company's founding, growth and missteps, as well as lessons learned. The book was written in collaboration with Catherine Fredman.[26]

Wealth and personal life

Forbes estimates Dell's net worth at $19.5 billion.[1] Dell married Lieberman on October 28, 1989 in Austin, Texas; the couple reside there with their four children.[27][28][29]


In 1999, Michael and Susan Dell established the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which focuses on, among other causes, grants, urban education, childhood health and family economic stability. The foundation has provided $65 million in grants to three health-related organizations associated with the University of Texas: the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, and the Dell Children's Medical Center, as well as funding for a new computer science building at the University of Texas at Austin campus.[30][31]

By 2010, the foundation had committed more than $650 million to children's issues and community initiatives in the United States, India and South Africa[32] Today the foundation has over $466 million assets under management.[33]

In 2002, Dell received an honorary doctorate in Economic Science from the University of Limerick in honor of his investment in Ireland and the local community and for his support for educational initiatives.[34]

In 2012, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation committed $50 million for medical education. The Dell Medical School will begin enrolling students in 2016.[35]

In 2014, he donated $1.8 million to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.[36]


In the April 2011 issue of Mother Jones, a timeline of Michael Dell's life is detailed in "American Magnate: Michael Dell: How a homegrown geek outsourced, downsized, and tax-breaked his way to the top." The article juxtaposes Dell's spending on luxurious homes and private jet travel with his pursuit of tax breaks and tax holidays and Dell Computer's eventual offshoring of jobs overseas after receiving the incentives for setting up shop locally.[37]


  1. ^ a b c "Forbes - Michael Dell". www.forbes.com. March 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Brown, Joshua (2011-03-20). "Michael Dell’s Very Big Stock Purchase". The Reformed Broker. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  3. ^ Calnan, Christopher (2010-02-07). "Managing Michael Dell's multibillions". BizJournals. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  4. ^ Guglielmo, Connie (October 30, 2013). "Dell Officially Goes Private: Inside The Nastiest Tech Buyout Ever". Forbes. 
  5. ^ Lone stars of David: the Jews of Texas, By Hollace Ava Weiner, Kenneth Roseman, page 257, UPNE, 2007
  6. ^ Biography of Michael Dell. businessweek.com (From The Associated Press; 2007-01-31).
  7. ^ History of Our School. Es.houstonisd.org. Retrieved on 2012-07-12.
  8. ^ "Biography: Michael Dell Founder & Chairman, Dell Inc". American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved April 15, 2010. 
  9. ^ Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. HarperBusiness. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 
  10. ^ Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. HarperBusiness. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 
  11. ^ Kirk Ladendorf. "Dell remembers his beginning while looking toward the future" Austin American-Statesman. November 27, 2011, pp. E1, E2.
  12. ^ Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. HarperBusiness. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 
  13. ^ Larry Faulkner, President, University of Texas at Austin (2003). Michael Dell Remarks. dell.com
  14. ^ Pletz, John (2004-05-02). "Business, Personal Finance, Technology, Employment news for Austin and Central Texas". Statesman.com. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  15. ^ Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. HarperBusiness. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 
  16. ^ Kessler, Michelle (March 4, 2004). "Dell founder passes torch to new CEO". USA Today. Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Michael Dell". National Press Club Summary. National Public Radio. June 8, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  18. ^ Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. HarperBusiness. p. xiv. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 
  19. ^ Kanellos, Michael (April 1, 2001). "Dell beats Compaq for No. 1 ranking". CNET News. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  20. ^ "MSC Capital – About Us". Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Dell Chief Replaced by Founder", New York Times.
  22. ^ a b "Dell Inc., Michael S. Dell, Kevin B. Rollins, James M. Schneider, Leslie L. Jackson, Nicholas A.R. Dunning". Sec.gov. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  23. ^ Richman, Tom (January 1, 1990). "The Entrepreneur of the Year". Inc. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Bower Award for Business Leadership". Franklin Institute. 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  25. ^ "Executive Team: Michael S. Dell". Dell Inc. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  26. ^ Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. HarperBusiness. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 
  27. ^ Biographical details and interview. Fastcompany.com (2001-02-28). Retrieved on 2012-07-12.
  28. ^ A Focus on Efficiency, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 6, 2006.
  29. ^ Texas Monthly: "Suddenly Susan - Not so long ago, Austin women in need of couture clothes had to go to Dallas or Houston. Now Susan Dell (the wife of Michael) is selling her own high-dollar designs in a tony boutique. It's your classic riches-to-rags story" by Pamela Colloff August 2000
  30. ^ "Childhood Health". Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  31. ^ Warden, Michael L. (2006). "Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Grants $50 Million to University of Texas to Bring Excellence in Children's Health and Education to Austin". University of Texas. Retrieved 2006-05-18. 
  32. ^ Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Applauds the First Lady's 'Let's Move!' Campaign To End Child Obesity
  33. ^ The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation company overview
  34. ^ Annette Condon (2002-05-29), Michael Dell Conferred with Honorary Doctorate from the University of Limerick. University of Limerick Press Release
  35. ^ Ralph K.M. Haurwitz (January 30, 2013). "Dell family foundation to donate $60 million for UT medical school, local health care". Austin American-Statesman. 
  36. ^ "Hollywood gala raises a record $33 million for IDF". TIMES OF ISRAEL. November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  37. ^ Harkinson, Josh (March–April 2011). "American magnate: Michael Dell: how a homegrown geek outsourced, downsized, and tax-breaked his way to the top". Mother Jones. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 


  • Dell, Michael; Catherine Fredman (1999). Direct From Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry. New York, New York: HarperColins Publishers. ISBN 0-88730-914-3. 

External links