Dell Inc. headquarters in Texas. Dell photo

Forbes has released its list of the largest private companies in the U.S., with Dell Inc. being notable among the new names joining the list. Dell debuted at No. 3, but that’s not a shock; while most companies make the list by revenue growth, Dell became private after founder Michael Dell and a private venture firm bought out investors in a $25-billion deal.

That buyout came after a protracted eight-month running battle with investor Carl Icahn, who was vocally critical of Dell’s leadership and ethics.

Icahn at one point slammed Dell in a poetic Twitter couplet , and sued him over Dell’s attempts to block an Icahn takeover of the company.

In a Wall Street Journal editorial after losing the battle, Icahn described Dell as dysfunctional, an example of the “divine right of boards” to ignore voting shareholders. “Instead of deposing him, the Dell board froze out shareholders, and …  voted to allow the CEO to buy the company at a bargain price using shareholders’ own cash,” Icahn wrote.

For his part, Dell kept quiet until the deal was finalized, then aired his grievances on CNBC’s Squawk Box. Icahn, who owned no shares in Dell until the buyout attempt, was simply trying to drive up the price and had “no long-term … good intentions for the company or its shareholders or people inside the company,” he said.

Headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin, Dell employs more than 100,000 people worldwide. Its subsidiaries include custom PC-maker Alienware Corp.,storage area network company Compellent Technologies Inc., network switching company Force 10 Networks Inc., IT Services company Perot Systems Corp. and managed information security company SecureWorks Inc.

Michael Dell started the company from his Austin dorm room in 1984. It went public four years later.


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Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.