Everything you need to know about Dell Technologies

The Dell logo in white against a wood-panelled wall
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s been 40 years since Michael Dell founded a company called PC’s Limited from his dorm room at the University of Texas for just $1,000. 

Fast forward those four decades and the business – now called Dell Technologies Inc. – is an American multinational technology company employing more than 120,000 people worldwide and boasting $88bn of revenue as of 2024, with Michael Dell still at its helm as CEO and Chairman.

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Quick facts about Dell Technologies
Founded1984Row 0 - Cell 2
Current CEOMichael DellRow 1 - Cell 2
HQRound Rock, Texas, USARow 2 - Cell 2
Annual revenue$88.4 billion (2024)Row 3 - Cell 2

A quick history of Dell

When Michael Dell began his journey with the company in 1984, he probably didn’t expect to leave university a year later – at the end of his first year – to focus on the firm full-time. 

His aim was to sell IBM personal computers directly to consumers, built from stock components. Dell believed he would be able to better serve their demand, creating a system that better matched their needs – assembling the PC from a selection of options chosen by customers.

Its first in-house designed computer in 1985 featured an Intel processor and sold for $795. PC’s Limited is said to have made $73m in its first year of trading and changed its name to Dell Computer Corporation in 1987.

This was the same year it opened its first international subsidiary in the UK and 12 months later the company went public following an annual growth of 80%. In 1990, a manufacturing center was opened in Ireland to serve customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). 

As the internet started to gather pace, Dell Computer Corporation took the plunge with online sales, commencing the practice in 1996. The risk succeeded allowing it to expand into the Asia-Pacific region. 

By the turn of the millennium, it would have manufacturing centers in China, Ireland, Brazil, and the United States. Just a year later, in 2001, Dell would become the number one computer systems provider worldwide and this year would also mark the beginning of its relationship with EMC, the data storage experts founded back in 1979.

While rivals such as Compaq, Gateway, and Packard Bell faltered, Dell remained strong and changed its name in 2003 to Dell Inc. to recognize its growing product line such as the first Dell brand printers.

In 2006, Dell bought gaming hardware specialists Alienware. The same year, it saw growth stall and lost its title of the largest PC manufacturer to Hewlett Packard.

The late 2000s were challenging. Downsizing and closures reduced headcount at the company and the release of Apple’s first iPad tablet cannibalised PC sales. Dell Technologies’ own attempts to create a popular handheld with the Dell Streak were not commercially successful and its PC business declined.

But in 2013, things began to turn around. This was the year Michael Dell bought the company back from shareholders with help from a private equity firm, with a vision to focus on innovation. 

Three years later in 2016, Dell merged with EMC to create Dell Technologies, a deal which then was the biggest in tech history. EMC had an 80% equity stake in VMware, which passed into the hands of Dell Technologies. VMware was held as a separate company until it successfully spun off from Dell in 2021.

In 2021, Dell Technologies also released Dell Apex, its anything as a service (Xaas) portfolio that covers cloud, storage, and infrastructure.

What does Dell Technologies sell?

Dell Technologies is a leading provider of end-to-end solutions – everything from personal computers to high-end business laptops to servers, monitors, storage, and network security. It has the No1 position in high-end PC gaming with a near 20% share, the same position it holds for PC workstations (42.2% share) and PC monitors (19.7% share).

In addition to its hardware, Dell Technologies has a range of professional services related to multi-cloud, data and applications, and security. 

Dell Apex provides infrastructure on-premises and in the cloud on a self-service access basis. This is available in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Singapore.

Like many in the tech sector, Dell is also heavily invested in generative AI. Customers can expect to make use of Dell services that support AI strategies, training, and deployment including the use of chatbots for customer service or AI models for coding.

Dell Technologies M&A activity

Throughout its history, Dell has been involved in a wide range of mergers and acquisitions, alongside its headline ones such as EMC and Alienware. 

According to its Investment Thesis, the company aims to “leverage our strengths to extend our leadership positions and capture new growth opportunities”. It aims to invest in its supply chain to ensure it’s as agile and nimble globally as it can be to withstand and be resilient to fluctuations and shocks.

Other companies it has acquired include EqualLogic (2008), Boomi (2010), SonicWall (2012) and StatSoft (2014).

Doing business with Dell Technologies

Dell has its HQ in Round Rock, Texas and represents a major contributor to the city’s general fund through its sales taxes. It is also a major employer in the area.

According to the company’s website, it sets “ambitious goals that reflect who we are and what we stand for, even when we don’t yet know the path forward”. And as the world changes, Dell promises it “won’t stop innovating to achieve our goals and empower our customers to achieve theirs”.

Dell Technologies also has a range of core sustainability goals it is working towards by 2030. These include reusing or recycling an equivalent product for every product bought, ensuring 100% of its packaging is made from recycled or renewable material and manufacturing more than half of its product content from recycled or renewable material.

In 2022, Dell teamed up with Intel to create a prototype for sustainable PC design called Concept Luna. Its modular design eliminated the need for adhesives and cables and minimized the use of screws. This made it easier to repair and meant it could be dismantled as a system in minutes rather than hours. The hope for Concept Luna was to make components more accessible to expand the opportunities for their reuse.

In recent years, Dell has expanded its multi-cloud approach with the mantra of 'multi-cloud by design'. Its Apex platform underwent its largest-ever expansion in 2023.

Ahead of Dell Technologies World 2024 beginning, Dell’s share price surged to an all-time high on news of predicted demand for AI servers built around NVIDIA chips. Given Dell’s heritage in manufacturing, analysts expect this side of its business to represent $10bn of revenue in its fiscal 2025 period, per CNBC.

Rory Bathgate will be covering Dell Technologies World 2024 between 20 and 24 May. Stay up-to-date with live coverage of all the announcements and more on ITPro.

Jonathan Weinberg is a freelance journalist and writer who specialises in technology and business, with a particular interest in the social and economic impact on the future of work and wider society. His passion is for telling stories that show how technology and digital improves our lives for the better, while keeping one eye on the emerging security and privacy dangers. A former national newspaper technology, gadgets and gaming editor for a decade, Jonathan has been bylined in national, consumer and trade publications across print and online, in the UK and the US.