Michael Dell's Graceful Exit

The strong partnership Dell has forged with Rollins should ensure a smooth transition. Viewed in light of Eisner's extreme reluctance to step down as CEO and more trials of corporate execs to come, this is one more case of Dell putting his company's interests above his own.

March 2004 will probably always be remembered as Martha Month (see BW Online, 3/5/04, "A Guilt-Edged Guide to Martha's Future"), but it has also featured A Tale of Two Mikes. One Mike, Walt Disney (DIS) Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, grudgingly agreed to give up one of his titles after an unheard-of 43% of the company's shareholders withheld their votes at the company's annual meeting. The other Mike? Dell (DELL) founder Michael Dell, who announced he will hand off one of his titles -- CEO -- to longtime No. 2 and heir apparent Kevin Rollins on July 16.

Eisner and Dell became CEOs the same year, 1984, but their careers have been worlds apart. Eisner was an up-and-coming entertainment executive when he took over one of the world's great show-biz names, and he has ruled it since. Dell was a 19-year old college dropout when he founded his own PC company, declaring himself the top dog. Today, as Eisner struggles to hold onto power amid attacks from dissident shareholders and would-be acquirers, Dell is going out in style, with his company operating in peak condition by almost any measure. Dell has gone from a $1,000 startup shop operating out of Dell's dorm room at the University of Texas (he later dropped out) to the No. 1 PC company in the world, with 2003 sales of $41 billion and 43,000 employees.

News source: E-Commerce

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