9 Carl Icahn Quotes On Dell: Wall Street's Biggest Loudmouth12:00 PM EST Mon. Jul. 29, 2013
Billionaire Carl Icahn has a reputation for being an outspoken loudmouth as well as being a brilliant investor. Over the past six months, since he began a bid to take control of Dell, he has been a veritable sound-bite machine cranking out relentless critiques of Dell CEO Michael Dell and his company via amusing and sometimes insightful quips, one-liners and colorful quotes.
Icahn may never be confused with baseball player Yogi Berra who's famous for his one-liners on life such as "It ain't over 'til it's over." But, Icahn-isms have included such gems as "You learn in this business: If you want a friend, get a dog" and "In life and business, there are two cardinal sins. The first is to act precipitously without thought and the second is to not act at all."
Here is rewind of Icahn and his most memorable quotes related to the "'Desperate Dell Debacle" -- as Icahn calls it himself.
Carl Icahn joined Twitter on June 20, 2013, with his first tweet -- a Dell joke.
"Twitter is great. I like it almost as much as I like Dell."
Carl Icahn channels his inner running back in a July 8 interview with Bloomberg explaining his plans (or lack thereof) for Dell:
"I made an awful lot of money not having plans. Ask a running back 'what was your plan when you saw three guys coming at you?' He doesn't say, 'well Jesus I had a plan.' These things have a life of their own."
Taking control of Dell is like catching a falling knife, Icahn told Bloomberg TV's "Street Smart with Trish Regan and Adam Johnson," in a July 11 phone interview.
"Look at him [Michael Dell] (pictured), he is going in and catching a falling knife. He knows the company better than anyone. He is paying for it. I don't think anybody would accuse him of doing this for charity or helping shareholders. ... Very often the founder of the company should not be running it later when it matures and I don't think he has done a good job and I think the board has been asleep on the switch. They should have held him accountable years ago. They have had a very poor performance. Instead of saying that you are out of here, they are going to reward him and give him this great bargain."
Carl Icahn said he's never seen a board as bad as Dell's in a July 17 interview with CNBC.
"I've been through a lot of these fights. Most of these boards are pretty dysfunctional but I've never seen a board as bad as Dell's. They go out and scare the shareholders."
"I believe the problem we have in America is that you have boards like this. ... There is no corporate democracy in this country and it's a sad, sad commentary on our country," he said.
In a July 17 press release, Carl Icahn uncharacteristically revealed in terms of what he might do with Dell if he can oust Michael Dell from the CEO job and revamp the company's board of directors.
"I have obviously done a great deal of research concerning Dell. My simple conclusion is that I believe the PC business is not going away, but the industry is changing. Dell, for many reasons, will benefit from these changes. For example, their recent investments of $13 billion in enterprise software and other non-PC businesses is already beginning to show results. And, I believe that there are many opportunities to enhance the value of Dell through cost savings. I believe that the Board could have and should have given all shareholders the opportunity to benefit from these developments, and not just their 'favorite son.' My proposal of a $14 per share Dell tender, coupled with the ability to remain as a stockholder in Dell, gives stockholders that choice."
Carl Icahn, humble? In a July 18 interview with CNBC, Icahn comes to terms with the prospect of losing his buyout fight with Michael Dell.
"I could lose. I could lose. It would be a terrible situation for me as we go to proxy fight, I lose the proxy fight and I'm a minority holder and Dell runs it, who I think will get the job, and I would be a minority holder there. ... That would be a pretty bad situation in my mind, because I wouldn't want Dell running my company, so it wouldn't be good."
"If you look back on all these guys, you know, it really isn't a personal thing. And when I lose, I call them up and congratulate them, and say, hey, no matter what, no matter how I feel. If Dell wins the proxy fight, if it goes to the proxy fight and he wins, I don't know if he'll talk to me, but I will call him up and say congratulations, and I know I'm a big minority holder and I'm going to figure out how to get the hell out of this damn thing, but I will still say okay."
Carl Icahn channels his inner Dr. Seuss with this July 24 tweet he fired off on Wednesday: "All would be swell at Dell if Michael and the board bid farewell."
But what's more revealing is his official filing of his "notice to investors" statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in which the billionaire investor is shilling for Twitter followers.
"A statement regarding my reaction to the Dell situation can be accessed on my Twitter account: @Carl_C_Icahn. Follow my Twitter account; other Tweets to follow. We will be issuing a comprehensive statement on the Dell situation later today."
Also on July 24, Carl Icahn headed to Russia and North Korea for inspirational references for a quip expressing his dislike for Michael Dell's attempt to change the voting rules for shareholders in the upcoming buyout vote on Aug. 2.
"In today's latest installment of the 'Desperate Dell Debacle,' Michael Dell/Silver Lake have asked the company to change the rules of the game in a transparent attempt to force their freeze out transaction across the finish line despite the vote of its stockholders."
"A few days ago we warned this Board not to run the Company like a banana republic. Some commentators have even compared this "Desperate Dell Debacle" to Vladimir Putin and North Korea! After this latest action by Michael Dell/Silver Lake, we are clearer than ever – it is time for Michael Dell and this Board to go."
Okay, to be fair, here is one of Michael Dell's most infamous quotes on what he'd do with Apple if he owned it. The quote is from October 1997 and was given at the Gartner Symposium and ITxpo97.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."
In hindsight it sounds like something you might have heard Carl Icahn say today. According to an Oct. 18, 2011, interview with TechCrunch, Michael Dell says the quote was "misconstrued."