And, while most consumers and other customers could probably care less on whether this even happens or not, I will be watching with big, dripping wads of excitement to see if other tech companies follow a similar path. My hope is that Dell starts a trend, because I have ALWAYS believed that 99% of the information technology companies out there should be privately held.
I can hear all three of my blog readers right now - "WHAT?? ARE YOU SOME KIND OF NON-CAPITALIST, SOCIALIST SCUMBAG??? It's every company's RIGHT to offer up publicly traded pieces for the COMMON MAN to invest his or her hard earned money and potentially reap the benefits of the company's growth! As a matter of fact, if they DON'T go public, the terrorists win!"
Ok, ok...maybe the terrorists thing was overkill, but you're right - every company should have the right to go public, but hear me out here...even a writer over at Inc. magazine thinks it's not such a bad idea...
Let's forget for a second the fact that I have a constant, skeptical eye cast towards the concept that the modern day stock market is based on anything but the utopian concept of supply and demand. You can read about what I feel is really skewing the markets here and here...I won't get into that topic for now.
No - I want to consider Dell's move to return to private ownership as a good thing because it allows them the flexibility and opportunity to get a little risky with what they do with their business. See, the information technology world is one whose fire is stoked and grown through constant innovation. And "innovation" as I define it, means, "...trying some pretty crazy things that take time to determine whether they are a success or failure." Tech companies who don't innovate and subsequently rest on their laurels are doomed to be stuck behind as the IT field evolves. Don't believe me? Just ask this company or this company if they would agree with my hypothesis.
Anyway, back to the concept of innovation. The main variable behind innovation for any company is the concept of risk - the risk of money and manpower spent pursuing a concept, the risk of time it takes for that concept to come to fruition, the risk of the industry's acceptance of the innovation and willingness to pay for it, etc. And risk is something most modern companies have trouble balancing while also being slaves to share prices, market valuations, and other financial variables that investors demand to stay forever healthy and growing over 90 day stints of time.
This brings me back to what Dell's potential might be if they are able to become a private company. If they are smart, they will use the "going private" opportunity to trim the fat on past acquisitions that were head scratchers (remember Force10 or Perot Systems, anybody?), and spend the time wisely to refine some pretty awesome things that seem to go unnoticed. Take Project Copper for example - it's their project to develop an EXTREMELY low power blade server solution based on ARM processors. As we all know, electrical power is king in the datacenter, and if a company can save some of it by using different equipment to get the same results, maybe THEIR stock price will go up :-).
Other tech companies should watch what happens if Dell goes private and consider following the same suit. After all, survival in the Kingdom of IT is boiled down to one, simple statement:
Innovate or die.