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Michael Dell steps down as CEO

March 05, 2004 15:15 IST

Michael Dell, one of the most familiar names in corporate America, on Thursday, stepped down as the chief executive of Dell Computer, the company he founded 20 years ago. Dell, however, will continue to remainĀ its chairman.

Kevin Rollins, president and chief operating officer, who helped lead the company since 1997 would officially become the CEO at the company's July 16 annual meeting of the shareholders.

The company in a statement said: "Michael Dell will remain deeply involved in the company's day-to-day business as chairman of the board."

Rollins, 55, is a former Bain & Co consultant who became head of Dell's US operations in 1996. He developed the market segmentation plan that led to the computer maker's sizzling growth in the 1990s.

The firm said the change in titles is consistent with the main roles played by the two men: Dell has overseen trends in customer preference and research and development, while Rollins has focused on the company's strategy and operations.

Dell spokesman T R Reid said the move does not reflect any dissatisfaction with the performance of Michael Dell, who created the company from his dormitory room while an undergraduate at the University of Texas.

"This shouldn't be perceived as some sort of sea change," Reid said. "Michael's more into our opportunities and where technology is going, and Kevin likes running the day-to-day operations. This change allows them to catch up to their predilections."

According to Michael Dell's book, "Direct From Dell," published in 1999, the PC company DELL was not his first venture.

His first business was Dell's Stamps when he was barely 12 years old. It netted him $2,000. "I learned an early, powerful lesson about the reward of eliminating the middleman," he said in the book.

When he was 16, Dell sold newspaper subscriptions to the Houston Post by canvassing mortgage and marriage license lists, thus showing an interest in phone solicitation that somehow escaped the eye of guidance counselors.

He made $18,000 in his first year -- more than some of his high school teachers earned. On a leave of absence from the University of Texas during the second semester of his freshman year, he moved into a condominium and sold $80,000 worth of computers.

Between 1984-87, Michael Dell managed to take his company from a $1,000 hobby to a $160 million business. In 1999, it was worth $18 billion. Dell still owns around 10.6 per cent of the company, a stake worth roughly $9 billion.
Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston
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