Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 15, 2013 - 10:19 PM | Scott Michaud
There have been some groups opposed to the planned deal to cease publicly trading Dell and release their shares. It would seem that for many, a short-term payout of 25 percent over trading price is insufficient and, they believe, undervalues the company. I mean, the price is totally not derived from the value you gave it when you just finished trading stocks at 80 percent of what Dell is offering you or anything. Yes, I am making a joke: some investors were almost definitely going long on Dell. I still suspect that some are just playing hardball, hoping that a quarter on the dollar raise is just a starting bid.
Buckle in, I will separate stockholders opinions into two categories: investment firms and employees.
Ars Technica clearly had football on the mind when they wrote a very Superbowl-themed editorial. Early in the month, Southeastern Asset Management sent a letter to Dell management expressing their stance to vote against a deal to go private. The investment firm controls 8.5 percent of Dell which means their opinion has a fair amount of sway. A short few days later, T. Rowe Price stepped up to likewise oppose the deal. This firm owns 4.4 percent of Dell, which means combined they have roughly a 13 percent vote.
Factor in a bunch of smaller investors and you are looking at almost a fifth of the company wanting to keep it public. That combined voting power slightly overtakes the 16 percent control owned by Micheal Dell and could hamper the festivities.
Employees, meanwhile, are upset all the same. Again, according to Ars Technica and their vigilant coverage states that some employees were force to sell their stock acquired as a part of their 401k at $9 per share – substantially lower than the 13.65$ being offered to investors.
There are several other ways which employees get their stake in the company reduced or hampered, but I would direct you to the Ars Technica article so I do not butcher any details.
Unfortunately these sorts of practices are fairly commonplace when it comes to investment deals. It would appear as if this deal trots on common ground instead of taking the high road.
God, I hate mixed metaphors.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 02:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wall street, OEM, microsoft, dell
Dell, ranked third in terms of global market share, has announced that it is entertaining a buyout offer by CEO and founder Michael Dell and his associates. The $24.4 billion deal will see Dell leave wall street and return to a privately held company. Michael Dell has managed to secure funding for the buyout offer, which amounts to $13.65 per share.
Funding sources for the buyout offer includes:
- Cash and equity from Michael Dell and Dell cash on hand.
- Cash from Silver Lake
- Cash from MSD Capital
- A $2 billion loan from Microsoft
- A rollover of existing debt
New debt financing compromised of
- Bank of America Merril Lynch
- Credit Suisse
- RBC Capital Markets
The deal will leave Dell with $15 billion of new debt, but it will also allow them to go in new directions and focus on long term goals. Dell will no longer be forced to focus on short term growth and profitability over long term goals to keep stockholders/wall street content. It is an interesting move on Dell's part because traditionally companies do the opposite: transition from being privately to publicly held corporations. Michael Dell is at the forefront of the buyout offer and should it go through, Dell will remain the CEO of the now-private company. The deal is expected to close by the end of the company's second fiscal quarter (July 2013)-- though the board does have 45 days to solicit alternative offers.
According to the New York Times, Michael Dell wrote the following memo to employees.
“Dell’s transformation is well under way, but we recognize it will still take more time, investment and patience. I believe that we are better served with partners who will provide long-term support to help Dell innovate and accelerate the company’s transformation strategy.”
It is an interesting move, and hopefully Dell will be able to turn its luck around, and gain back its lost market share. Many enthusiasts are wondering whether or not the $2 billion loan from Microsoft suggests the software giant has a special interest in the OEM--and whether that means Dell will become some kind of premium partner for Windows and/or Windows Phone devices.
That is certainly one option, but it is not the only one. While I think Dell will continue to produce Windows-powered computers, there is also the growing popularity of Linux to consider. Dell could continue to produce Windows PCs without going private, but pursuing Linux in a big way might be one reason to do so. Dell has traditionally been supportive of the open source Linux operating system with initiatives like Project Sputnik. While it would not happen overnight and would require quite the effort, Dell could do for Linux what Apple has done for Unix with OS X.
It could focus on a premium line of computers running a Linux-based operating system along with quality customer support. It may be an unlikely option compared to the suggestions of a Dell and Microsoft premium partnership, but it is not completely without merit.
Why do you think Michael Dell is transitioning Dell to a privately-held company? Will Dell cozy up to Microsoft for the next Surface, is there some other grand plan in the works, or is the answer more simple?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 5, 2013 - 02:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Dell, dude, you're getting a Dell!
So it is official that Dell is going private. Michael Dell, CEO, as well as: Silver Lake, MSD Capital, several banks, and Dell itself will buy back stocks from investors 25% above the January 11th trading price. The whole deal would be worth $24.4 billion USD.
Going private allows the company to make big shifts in their business without answering to investors on a quarterly basis. We can see how being a publicly traded company seems to hinder businesses after they grow beyond what a cash infusion can assist. Even Apple finds it necessary to keep an absolutely gigantic pile of cash to play with, only recently paying dividends to investors.
Also contributing to the buyback, as heavily reported, is a $2 billion USD loan from Microsoft. While it sounds like a lot in isolation, it is only just over 8% of the whole deal. All you really can pull is that it seems like Microsoft supports Dell in their decision and is putting their money where their intentions are.
Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2013 - 10:02 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dell, microsoft, purchase
It is a bit of an exaggeration to entertain the thought that Microsoft is involved in buying Dell so that they will finally have a supplier that will have to sell Surface tablets but you can bet there will be some Dell branded Win8 ultra-portables bearing touchscreens released in the near future. Microsoft and Dell have been close partners for quite a while, on the retail side but more importantly on the enterprise side and there will not be any changes to that partnership if Microsoft does indeed purchase a part of Dell. What might change drastically is Dell's product lineup; with no stockholders demanding a steady dribble of short term profits regardless of the effect of long term profits Dell will be free to develop products and product lines which might be more varied. That does not guarantee success in the development and sales of new products, but it will be interesting to see what Dell comes up with if the sale does go through. On the other hand it could be that Dell's allegiance will be torn between the various companies involved in this buy out and that innovation will be stifled by it. Get more predictions from The Register right here.
"It’s a comment on the times that Dell floated in 1988, just as IBM compatible PCs – systems running Intel chips fused with the then-new Windows operating system – were exploding into people's homes and workplaces, taking the PC from the hands of enthusiasts. Two decades later, Dell's going private as PC sales tumble at the expense of tablets while web2.0 companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Zynga are the ones listing."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- RAMDisks: Maximizing High-Capacity RAM @ Bjorn3D
- Typing Secret Word Will Kill Almost Any App in Apple's OS X Mountain Lion @ DailyTech
- Bring out your dead: Reg readers reveal filthy, filthy PCs...
- Finding 1s and 0s with a microscope and computer vision @ Hack a Day
- The TR Podcast 128: Rough surfaces and a change for Catalyst
- AMD’s Never Settle Game Bundle; Reloaded & Updated @ Hardware Canucks
- The obligatory Super Hole VII – Creative Director edition @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 10:28 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: XPS 13, ultrabook, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, sputnik, linux, dell
Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is branded as an Ultrabook but it has two significant differences; a custom built Ubuntu distro and a price $250 higher than Dell's other Ultrabook offering. Those two points are somewhat interrelated as Dell will be offering support equivalent to Windows powered machines which means new training, procedures and staffing which can be expensive to set up. There is another reason the price is so high which is the hardware as, even the base model comes with a 256GB SSD; the rest of the hardware is pretty standard, an i7-3517U, 8GB DDR3 and no discrete video card. It is hard to say if sticking the Developer Edition moniker on the machine will encourage people to purchase this ultrabook, if you are curious check out more at The Inquirer.
"TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell's decision to put arguably its best laptop on sale preloaded with Ubuntu Linux shows not only how far desktop Linux has come but how far Microsoft has fallen.
Dell announced its Project Sputnik earlier this year to a warm if not ecstatic reception. The firm had preloaded Linux onto its consumer machines before but they were hard to find and on forgettable machines. However with the XPS 13 the firm is not only loading Linux on its most high profile laptop but showing that Microsoft's operating system isn't the only choice in town for OEMs and consumers alike."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
The Dell All-in-One
Reviewers, at times, can be somewhat myopic. I speak for myself in this particular instance. My job as a writer is to test hardware on a daily basis, and as such I have a very keen understanding (or so I hope) of the intricacies of computer design. If I need to build a machine, whether for test purposes or something that my wife can play Song Pop on, I have a near infinite variety of components that I can choose from to fit the needs of the project. As such, we often forget that not everyone has that level of expertise. Most people, in fact, just want to be able to buy something that not only fits their needs, but also simply just has to work.
Dog is unimpressed with packaging. UPS complained profusely though.
This is the reason why we have the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos of the world. The vast majority of people out there are unwilling to build their own machine and support it themselves. They neither have the time nor patience to dive in and learn the ins and outs of a modern PC and the software that runs them. This is not a bad thing. Just as I do not have the patience to learn how to sew, I still like wearing clothes. At least during our podcasts. For the most part.
We must also admit that we are moving well away from the typical beige box that dominated the 90s and early 2000s. Manufacturers have a much better eye for not only functionality, but also aesthetics. No longer do we have the hulking CRTs of yesteryear, and neither do we have the large boxes that are nearly indistinguishable from one or another. Multiple form factors abound and these large manufacturers have design teams that pay very close attention to things like compatibility, power consumption, and thermal dissipation. With these things in mind, they are able to create unique devices that not just serve the needs of consumers, but also just simply work.
Apple has been at the forefront of this type of design for quite some time. This is a company that has prized fit, finish, and functionality far more than they have pursued cost cutting and homogenization. This has lead to much higher margins for the company, and a nearly rabid following by the people buying their platforms. We certainly can argue that they probably perfected the “all-in-one” machine back in the Macintosh days, and since that time they have not stood still. The iMac was a further advancement in that field, but the introduction of relatively inexpensive and large LCD panels allowed them to further shrink the all-in-one. It also allowed them to further sculpt the design into what we see today.
Everything is nicely supported in the box.
Obviously people around the industry have noticed this trend, and noticed the devoted following of the Apple consumers. It is hard to miss. The world is a big place though, and surely there are people who crave the type of design that Apple pushes, but do not necessarily want to jump on that particular bandwagon. Dell has recognized this and created their XPS One lineup of products. Not everyone wants to run OSX and pay the Apple tax. If this is the case for a reader, then this might be the product that catches their attention.
Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2012 - 01:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, xps 10 tablet, windows rt, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, ifa, dell, convertible tablet, all-in-one
The IFA 2012 (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) electronics show is in full swing today and will be a week-long event where we should see several new product announcements similar in form to CES and Computex. That means photos, videos, and hands-on time with lots of new and shiny hardware. Earlier this week, ASUS announced two new tablets, and now Dell is jumping into the fray with three new XPS computers running Windows 8!
Dell is set up with displays at this years IFA 2012 conference where it is showing off several new systems running Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. The company is preparing offerings on all fronts with a tablet, ultrabook, and all-in-one desktop running Microsoft's upcoming operating system: the XPS 10 tablet, XPS Duo 12 Ultrabook, and the XPS One 27 All-In-One (AIO) PC respectively.
The Dell XPS 10 is a new tablet that resembles the Asus Transformer due to its dock-able nature. The tablet will be powered by an ARM processor and will run the accompanying Windows RT version of Windows 8. The 10" tablet has rounded corners along with a glossy black front and silver-colored trim around the bezel. The only physical button on the face of the device is the Windows Start button. It can be docked with a keyboard and trackpad combo to turn the tablet into a portable laptop as well.
Alternatively, the XPS Duo 12 steps up the build quality and specifications and packs it into a convertible tablet. While it will need to be tested independently to determine how well it's built, the materials Dell is using are a step up from the XPS 10 as the Duo 12 is constructed using machined aluminum, carbon fiber, and the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Not too shabby for an ultraportable! Unfortunately, there are no specifications on the internal hardware, but you can expect it to be running an AMD or Intel-based x86-64 CPU as this convertible tablet is running Windows 8. On the outside, Dell has stated that the display will have a resolution of 1920x1080.
The company has gone an interesting direction to make the Duo 12 a convertible laptop. Instead of turning the laptop lid around a vertical axis like the Dell Latitude XT (yes, I'm overdue for a laptop upgrade heh), the Duo 12 has a traditional laptop lid and horizontal hinge. Instead of swiveling the entire lid, the Duo 12 only flips around the display itself. It is not a completely new design, but it is relatively rare compared to the much more popular Transformer-style docks. Assuming it's solidly built, I think this design is actually superior than the company's other convertible offerings as the hinge should be much stronger and the display should be less wobbly when typing.
The XPS Duo 12 further features an integrated keyboard and trackpad along with at least two USB ports and an SD card reader. The keys do not look like they have much, if any, travel but otherwise it looks like a really neat machine (I'm also biased in favor of convertible tablets though... yeah I'm one of "those" geeks hehe). The biggest question in my mind about this tablet is pricing, however. If Dell prices it in like with the similarly spec'd Surface, I think it would sell fairly well. On the other hand, if they go the opposite route and price it at a couple thousand as a premium convertible tablet, I do not see it doing well against ultrabooks and Microsoft's upcoming Surface.
Finally, Dell showed off an updated version of its 27" All-In-One desktop PC that will come equipped with a touchscreen. As an update to the currently available XPS 27 AIO, the new model will add a touchscreen panel to the 2560x1440 IPS "Wide Quad HD" (whatever that is heh) panel. You can also expect the computer to be powered by third-generation "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 or Core i7 Intel processors, up to 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and up to 2TB of hard drive storage along with a 32GB solid state drive. The system will run the x64 version of Windows 8 and you can expect it to cost around (but a bit more than) the current XPS 27 AIO thanks to the addition of the touchscreen input device. For reference, current (non-touchscreen) XPS 27 models range from $1,399.99 to $1,899.99 USD.
I think that Dell is off to a good start with Windows 8 support. Nothing mind-blowing but they still look like interesting additions and updates to the company's product lineup. The biggest factor in me being personally interested in these machines is the price, and unfortunately Dell has not yet released that bit of information. Dell has stated that they will be available once Windows 8 launches, which is October 26th.
What do you think of Dell's Windows 8 PC offerings?
Dell has made the full press release available on its website, and you can see more photos of the new Windows 8 XPS computers after the break!
Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2012 - 11:54 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: winRT, asus, dell, Lenovo, Samsung, microsoft, arm
When Microsoft released their Surface tablet/notebook, the tech community wondered if this move by a software company would upset the Tier 1 hardware vendors who might not want the competition. That discussion was ended when Microsoft announced that Surface was a proof of concept and would be released in very limited qualities. Today The Inquirer reports on upcoming mobile devices running on ARM hardware and WinRT from all the major vendors, giving us a rough idea what to expect in the way of performance. The quoted specs include user interface animations at 60FPS and touchscreen sampling rates of 100Hz per finger. Battery life will be impressive, 320 hours and 409 hours of standby time and for video playback you can expect 8-13 hours of HD playtime, though they do not talk about the quality of that playback.
"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Microsoft has revealed Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung Windows RT devices will be available at the launch of the operating system.
Microsoft has been playing a very dangerous game with its Surface tablet hogging the Windows RT limelight, something that its long-term and invaluable partners will not like. Now the company has come out and said that Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung will also have Windows RT devices when the operating system launches later this year."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel: Xeon breaks Calxeda's ARM in Apache benchmark @ The Register
- Wireless power for the price of a penny @ NanoTechWeb
- ARM tags GlobalFoundries for future chip tech @ The Register
- Ubuntu 12.10 Is Faster With Intel Hardware @ Phoronix
- Hardware Secrets Interviews Arctic
- Canon Pixma Pro-1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Intel refutes nVidia claims regarding HD4000 game compatibility @ Kitguru
- How do you organize the cables and networking equipment from your computer? @ Hardware Secrets
- Genius G-Shot HD575T Digital Camcorder Review @ TechwareLabs
- Mini Apple iPad to launch at £179 on 12th September @ Kitguru
- Win A Silverstone Fortress FT03-MINI Chassis @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 11:31 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Ivy Bridge, hp, dell
About the only nice thing to be said about the Ultrabook is that it is doing better than the previous CULV form factor Intel tried. While there are a group of consumers who praise the Ultrabook, the machines never actually lived up to the specifications Intel used to define an Ultrabook. Battery life and size have for the most part lived up to the design specifications but boot time and price certainly have not ... at least at the same time. The inclusion of an SSD capable of quickly resuming from sleep tends to move the price north of the $1000 price limit, as do the materials used in the chassis to keep the size and weight down.
Ivy Bridge is helping, as the price of the processor comes down as does the thermals but DigiTimes suggests that this may be overshadowed by a shortage of both thin screens and metal chassis which will offset any reduction in processor expense. That hasn't stopped Dell who have announced two new Ultrabook models, the XPS 14 base model has an i5-3317U, 4GB DDR3-1333 and a 500GB HDD for about $1200 or the larger XPS 16 whose base model has an i5-3210M and a GT 630M as well as a HDD which will go for roughly $750-800USD. Both models are over 2kg and neither truly fits the definition of an Ultrabook nor does The Inquirer find anything more attractive about them than a Macbook. They are better than the HP Envy which was recently released at $600 which is inexpensive but as Matt Smith pointed out, that AMD A-Series in that Envy sleekbook is going to disappoint a lot of buyers when it comes to performance.
"Dell's range of XPS laptops, which are now labeled as ultrabooks in order to keep in step with Intel's latest branding, has been headed by the well received XPS 13, however the company has significantly updated its XPS 14 and introduced the XPS 15. According to the firm the XPS 14 is all about battery life while the XPS 15 is pitched at those who want to do content creation and video playback."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ballmer welcomes Yammer to the Microsoft family @ The Register
- BT Infinity does badly in real world speed test @ Kitguru
- Red Hat certifies AMD's Seamicro SM10000-XE for RHEL @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 06:27 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubuntu, sputnik, software, programming, linux, dell, computing
Dell recently announced that it is turning to an open source Linux OS to craft a developer focused operating system. Enabled by Dell’s incubation program (and accompanying monetary funding), the pilot program – named Project Sputnik – is based on Dell’s XPS13 ultrabook and the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS OS.
The Project Sputnik program will run for six months. Its goal is to create the ideal hardware and software platform for software developers. Currently, that means using Dell’s XPS13 laptop and a customized version of the Ubuntu 12.04 Linux OS. The team behind the initiative are working closely with Canonical (Ubuntu developers) to put together a custom Ubuntu image with stripped down software, custom drivers, and only the software packages that developers want.
The team wants to make it easy for software programmers to get a hold of the programing languages and environments that they need to do their jobs. It will have integration with GitHub for coding projects as well.
In the video below Barton George, Director of Marketing for Dell, talks about the Project Sputnik program and how they hope to craft a laptop aimed directly at developers.
It is an interesting program, and I hope that it does well. You can find more information about Project Sputnik and how you can get involved at the Dell website.
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