Solution providers are hoping that Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell will stay the course and keep the company privately held following reports Friday that the company is eyeing a return to the public market with an initial public offering.
Frank Vitagliano, CEO of Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions, No. 121 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, said Dell has gained significant competitive advantages from going private and is unlikely to want to give up those benefits with a full initial public offering.
"The reason for taking Dell private made a lot of sense then and it still makes a lot of sense today," he said. "By going private, Michael no longer has to worry about the 90-day shot clock and is able to do longer-term planning. That has been a big competitive advantage for Dell and its channel partners."
Vitagliano said public companies far too often make "unnatural" channel moves that compromise partners. "By going private Dell can take a longer-term view," he said. "For partners, that means you don't see dumb things like stuffing the channel. I have seen that in this industry for 30 years. I think the model Dell has today works and I would be surprised if they decided to opt for a complete IPO at this point."
Dell's board of directors is scheduled to meet later this month to discuss the options in an effort to raise cash and increase sales, according to a Bloomberg news report.
Michael Tanenhaus, CEO of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell EMC channel partner, said it's "highly unlikely" that Dell would be exploring going private.
"From an IPO point of view, they're ahead on their debt payments, so I don’t think that's going to push them. Michael Dell hated being public a lot and didn’t realize it until he was private. That's strictly from his own public comments in that he saves a ton of time every day being private," said Tanenhaus.
Tanenhaus said Dell could be forced into filing an IPO, but he doesn't see any evidence of that happening.
"It's still a very transformational time for IT. So I think going public, where you have to reveal your transformation plans, would kind of be the antithesis of what he was trying to accomplish in the first place. So I can't imagine that being on the table," Tanenhaus said.
The move to consider strategic alternatives like an IPO comes five years after Michael Dell completed the largest private equity buyout in history, taking Dell private in a $25 billion deal.