Billionaire Michael Dell Bio and Rise to Top
Michael Dell was born on Feb. 23, 1965, in Houston, Texas. He was fascinated with gadgets from a young age — when he was 15, he bought one of the first Apple computers and disassembled it to see if he could put it back together.
Source: Academy of Achievement
When he was in high school, he got a job selling newspaper subscriptions. After figuring out how to target an untapped customer base, he made $18,000 in just one year.
Source: Academy of Achievement
Though he was really only interested in computers, Dell entered the University of Texas at Austin as a pre-med student in 1983. He spent his spare time upgrading PCs and selling them from his dorm room, making $180,000 in his first month of business. Though he never came back for his sophomore year of classes, he returned to his dorm for a photo opp in 1999.
Harry Cabluck / AP Images
He officially launched his company in 1984, under the name PC’s Limited. It soon became one of the fastest-growing companies in the country, raking in more than $6 million in sales in its first year of business.
He changed the company’s name to Dell Computer Corp. in 1987, and sales continued to soar. It went public in 1988, raising $30 million in its initial public offering. Dell made about $18 million off of the deal, and by 1992, the 27-year-old CEO was the youngest man to ever lead a Fortune 500 company.
Rebecca McEntee / AP Images
Source: Entrepreneur, Academy of Achievement
In 1988, he went on a blind date with Susan Lieberman, a young fashion designer from Dallas. The two had an instant connection. “Most men I dated talked about themselves a lot and tried to impress me,” Susan told Texas Monthly. “He was the nicest guy I’d ever met.” They were married in October 1989 and together they have four kids.
Source: Texas Monthly
His son, Zack Dell, has started following in his dad’s footsteps. In 2014, at age 17, Zach cofounded Thread. Thread started as a dating app and now calls itself a photo-sharing app.
The family’s 33,000-square-foot home outside of Austin is known by locals as “the Castle” because of its hilltop perch and heavy security presence. The house boasts eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a tennis court, indoor and outdoor pools, and gorgeous views of Lake Austin.
Source: The Independent
Dell also owns a 6,380-square-foot contemporary ranch house in the nearby hills, where the family keeps Arabian horses. Dell’s 6D Ranch has been controversial, as some have said that he unfairly qualified for a $1 million agricultural tax break because his family and friends sometimes use the land to hunt deer.
Source: Mother Jones, The Nation
Dell also reportedly owns a four-story neoclassical home on the exclusive Caribbean island of Anguilla.
Rgoogin / Wikimedia Commons
Source: Mother Jones
But the family spends many of their holidays at the “Raptor Residence,” a seven-bedroom, 18,500-square-foot compound on 4.3 acres of oceanfront tropical paradise in the gated community of Kukio, Hawaii. The home was estimated to be worth a staggering $73 million.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Bing Maps
Source: Business Insider and The Pinnacle List
In 1998, Dell started a private-equity firm called MSD Capital to manage his family’s wealth. The firm has made investments in a number of companies, including IHOP, Applebee’s, Dollar Rent-a-Car, Domino’s Pizza, and a landscape business called ValleyCrest. In 2010, the firm purchased 185,000 vintage Magnum photos in one of the largest photography transactions in history.
Source: Bloomberg, New York Times
Through MSD Capital, Michael Dell also owns a wide variety of real estate in Hawaii, Mexico, and California. The company invests in luxury hotels, commercial and multifamily properties, and land development, and it participates in other real-estate-development funds.
… a Porsche Carrera GT …
… and a Hummer H2.
Dell is friends with other tech billionaires. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is a particular buddy. The two of them did a public Fitbit walking challenge in 2014 and Benioff’s team won. But Dell is so competitive, that he smack-talked Benioff about it, saying his mantra for the week was #dellbeatsbenioff2015.
In 2013, the legendary Texan won a long, occasionally ugly battle to take Dell private, fighting off legendary activist investor Carl Icahn, who wanted to stop the deal and replace the board.
Source: Business Insider
Two years after winning that battle, Dell announced plans to buy EMC for $67 billion, the largest tech acquisition ever. This is EMC CEO Joe Tucci shaking hands with Dell.
The financing of a deal this huge was complicated, and at first, skeptics thought it would fall apart in all sorts of ways, citing everything from tax complications to pushback from investors in VMware, a company EMC mostly owned.
Source: Recode, Business Insider
But Dell didn’t lose. Instead he catapulted his company into a much bigger one with the purchase of EMC. He is now the leader of the largest private company in the tech industry.
Mike Nudelman/Business Insider
His new company, renamed Dell Technologies, has $74 billion in revenue, 140,000 employees, a salesforce of 40,000, 25 manufacturing locations, and 17 global R&D centers. Its products compete in 39 tech areas. And it has stakes in two public companies, VMware and SecureWorks, a security company that Dell spun out as part of its financing strategy.
Source: Dell Technologies
“This is a change-or-die business,” a pleased Dell told CNBC’s Squawk Box after the deal closed. “All industries are becoming technology industries,” he added. “And we’ve got the powerhouse company to enable all of that across the world.”