Play nice but win A CEO's journey from founder to leader

Michael Dell, 1965-

Book - 2021

"More than an honest portrait of a leader at a crossroads, Play Nice But Win is a survival story proving that while anyone with technological insight and entrepreneurial zeal might build something great-it takes a leader to build something that lasts"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 658.4092/Dell Checked In
[New York, New York] : Portfolio / Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2021]
Physical Description
324 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
Main Author
Michael Dell, 1965- (author)
  • Headwinds
  • Different places
  • Going private (in private)
  • Start me up
  • Mr. Denali
  • Young man in a hurry
  • The end is nigh?
  • Up, up and away
  • Redemption
  • Growth, and other hazards
  • Body and soul
  • Project Emerald
  • Harry You and the bolt from the blue
  • Zettabytes and moonshots.
Review by Booklist Review

In 2013, an attempt to take author Dell's eponymous computer company private had stalled, and the company was facing a challenge from known corporate raider Carl Icahn. By taking the company private, Dell hoped to further evolve his company's work in the technology sector beyond the manufacture and sale of personal computers. Dell grew up in Houston as a precocious youth taught to "play nice, but win." He idolized business leaders who reigned in the 1970s and '80s, especially visionaries Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Obsessed with the advent of the PC, Dell loved to dismantle the device to learn the intricacies of its machinery. His entrepreneurial spirit moved him to establish his own computer business in 1984. Dell Computers' rise wasn't a sure thing, with so many competitors in the market, yet the company's service and leadership earned it the ranking of "The Most Admired Company" in 2005. This is a refreshingly candid account of Dell's success in the computer industry, and how his company has remained at the top of the business world.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

After spending much of the last decade engaged in a pitched battle to hold onto his eponymous computer company, a triumphant but bruised Dell (Direct from Dell) looks back at a lifetime of naysayers and relishes the chance to set the record straight in this intimate, insider portrait of a tech titan under siege. Chapters alternate between Dell narrating the ferocious battle to buy out the company and his transformation from a scrappy, entrepreneurial teen to a college-dorm dwelling CEO, two threads that are linked by his singular faith in the future of personal computing. Dell describes his aggressors: the "trouble-making opportunist" Carl Icahn, who waged a public war against Dell as the founder and CEO sought to take his company private and insulted Dell while he restrained from commenting on anything related to ongoing negotiations; shareholders who "abandoned" him during a spate of poor earnings; and a business media that had "an ax to grind." While the personal narrative is fast-paced and humorously told, the overwhelmingly one-sided perspective and frequent jargon-laced explanations of the industry will likely turn off those not already familiar with the contours of the industry and Dell itself. Business news nuts who love swashbuckling stories will feel right at home. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A bold tech entrepreneur tells his story. From the time he was a teenager, Dell, founder of his eponymous personal computer company, was fascinated by computers. When he was 14, he bought an Apple II with his own hard-earned money and promptly took it apart. Tutoring other kids about using computers proved to be "a pretty lucrative sideline," he recalls, and he joined a local Apple User group, which met "to talk upgrades and trade parts and swap stories." In a candid second memoir, following Direct From Dell (1998), the author recounts his evolution from computer geek to business mogul and philanthropist, interwoven with a chronicle of his company's growth, problems, and challenges. Dell's company began in his dorm room at the University of Texas in 1984, when the college freshman marketed souped-up IBM PCs to doctors, lawyers, and architects. By 1985, incorporated as Dell Computer Corporation, the company was selling its own models; by 1988, it went public; and by 1989, it had subsidiaries in Germany, France, and Canada. Dell had created a niche for which there was unprecedented demand. "Absolutely nobody else," he writes, "was building blazing-fast computers custom-tailored for consumers' needs and shipping them out on a lightning-quick turnaround." In 1990, Dell, not yet 25, was named Inc. magazine's first Entrepreneur of the Year. But the company began to flounder, and in 2010, Dell wanted to go private as a way to reinvigorate "the entrepreneurial spirit of the company's origins, of getting much more aggressive on gaining share, of investing in R & D and adding sales capacity." A business background would be helpful for following the stakes and complexities involved in making a transition from public to private and back to public again: Tensions and machinations (notably from the arrogant corporate raider Carl Icahn) went on for years. A driven, optimistic, and savvy businessman, Dell prevailed, and he is now estimated to be worth more than $30 billion. A lively chapter in computer history. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.