Dell CEO Invokes Winston Churchill's Words To Describe His Fight With Activist Investor: 'If You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going'

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Dell Technologies Inc. (NYSE:DELL) CEO Michael Dell's story has been that of adapting to an ever-evolving personal computing industry. While he has reinvented Dell, it hasn't been an easy task.

Michael Dell, the CEO of Dell Technologies Inc. (NYSE:DELL), has been at the helm of the company for 40 years. While he successfully took Dell private to reinvent it and bring it back in a healthier shape, he had to cross the hurdles created by activist investor Carl Icahn

What Happened: In an interview with Fortune, the 59-year-old CEO recalled a World War II-era quote by the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to describe his fight with activist investor Carl Icahn.

"What's that Winston Churchill quote?" Dell asked, before describing his journey of fending off Icahn's threats.

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

Under his leadership, Dell’s namesake company has been able to capitalize on the AI boom. Dell’s AI-optimized servers saw a 40% increase in orders in the last quarter.

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Dell's stock has also been on the uptrend – it has surged by 49% in 2024 so far, hitting an all-time high of $131.06. 

This surge in stock price pushed Dell’s personal net worth up by nearly 20% in the first three months of 2024, making him the 14th richest person globally, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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Icahn, an activist investor, opposed Dell’s efforts to take the company private, a move that Dell believed was necessary to reset the company for long-term success.

The opposition from Icahn led to a public feud, with Icahn even attempting to buy the company himself and oust Dell as CEO.

Why It Matters: Dell’s success in the AI sector comes after a period of decline in its PC business, a decline that was met with resistance from investors, including Icahn. 

Despite the challenges, Dell’s determination and belief in the deal carried the enterprise through a rough patch. The move to take the company private ultimately positioned Dell Technologies to capitalize on the AI boom. 

"Mad Money" host Jim Cramer credited Dell with taking AI to the "next level" following his namesake company's December 2023 quarter results.

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Photos courtesy: Oracle PR on Flickr, and Shutterstock

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