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In 1983, Michael S. Dell, then an incoming freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, drove away from his parents' Houston home in a white BMW he'd bought selling subscriptions to his hometown newspaper. In the backseat were three personal computers.
Today, he is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dell Computer Corporation, an $18 billion company, the second-largest manufacturer and marketer of computers in the world. Founded on a deceptively simple premise--to deliver high-performance computer systems directly to the end user--Dell Computer is the envy of its competition, constantly growing at five times the industry rate, and a perennial darling of Wall Street: its stock is up more than 36,000 percent this decade, and more than 200 percent in the last year.
In Direct From Dell, Michael Dell himself tells the incredible story of Dell Computer's successful rise, beginning in his college dorm room with $1,000 in capital.
In these pages, you'll see the formation of a great visionary--and a great company. You'll meet the young Dell who, at the tender age of eight, had already begun looking "to eliminate unnecessary steps" and who, as a numbers-loving adolescent, was inspired by a newfound fascination with computers to save his money to buy a coveted Apple II--only to promptly take it apart. You'll encounter a young visionary who, upon witnessing the inefficiencies of an exploding industry, challenged conventional wisdom and set out to do nothing less than beat IBM at its own game. In so doing, Dell forever changed the way things "had always been done" in the computer industry.
You'll also see the birth of a Dell hallmark--the direct model--which, in its ability to reach the customer directly, eliminated not only a substantial middleman markup but also the possibility of costly excess inventory, setting the stage for other extraordinary achievements. In an industry notorious for its unreliable service, Dell utilized its direct customer relationships to pioneer the concept of customer "support"--and didn't rest until the caliber of its service was rivaled only by the quality of its products and its speed of delivery.
But the story of Dell Computer is no fairy tale. Marked by uncharacteristically rapid growth, the company was faced with challenges that could have threatened its very existence. From forays into retail to under- (and over-) developed product lines, Dell learned some hard lessons along the way--and emerged stronger as a result.
The strategies born of those times--unrivaled speed to market; superior customer service; a fierce commitment to producing constantly high-quality custom-made systems--heralded what has perhaps been the company's crowning achievement: an early exploitation of the Internet. One of the first companies to actually make money online, Dell is now selling more than $12 million worth of systems per day over www.dell.com.
Not just for CEOs or those in high tech, the strategies revealed in Direct From Dell are invaluable to managers in a broad cross section of industries. From starting a successful business to pioneering computer sales and service over the Internet, Dell shares his perspectives on:
Revealing nothing less than a new model for doing business in the information age, Direct From Dell is both an extraordinary business success story and a manifesto for revolutionizing any industry.
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The PC business is full of rags-to-riches stories. But perhaps none is as dramatic as the rise of Dell Computer. In Direct from Dell, founder and CEO Michael Dell tells how he started his company from a dorm room at the University of Texas with less than $1,000 and built it into an industry powerhouse with a market capitalization of well over $100 billion. What makes Dell Computer unique is not what it sells, but rather how it sells it. Dell was first in the PC industry to pioneer the direct-selling model, a method that competitors such as Compaq and Apple Computer are only now starting to embrace. By cutting out the intermediary and creating a direct link between manufacturer and customer, Dell was able to provide customers with computers that cost less and that were more apt to meet customer needs.
Direct from Dell is organized into two parts. The first recounts the history and the enormous growth of Dell Computer. The second part focuses on Dell's management approach, from developing customer focus to creating alliances with suppliers. The book manages to avoid most of the promotional and self-congratulatory air that seem to plague so many first-person CEO tomes. Anyone who has followed the PC industry or would like insight into Dell Computer's success should enjoy reading this book. Well written and easy to read. Recommended. --Harry C. EdwardsAbout the Author:
Michael Dell is the chairman of the board of directors of Dell Inc., the world's largest computer-systems company. In 1992, he became the youngest CEO ever to earn a ranking on the Fortune 500. Mr. Dell serves on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the executive committee of the International Business Council, and is a member of the U.S. Business Council. He also serves on the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the governing board of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India.
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