BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 ISSUE
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

Michael S. Dell


MICHAEL S. DELL

DELL COMPUTER

Position: Founder and CEO

Contribution: Showed the rest of the world how to make the Web the foundation of an existing business.

Ambition:Make Dell the No. 1 PC company worldwide, overtaking Compaq.

When it comes to exploiting the promise of the Internet, Michael S. Dell is taking the rest of Corporate America to school. Other executives at first scoffed at this geeky new world, but Dell made sure his Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) had set up shop on the Web by 1995--olden days in Internet time. Now, the company is one of the top merchants in cyberspace, selling $30 million worth of computer gear a day. And, after being e-engineered from top to bottom, Dell may be the only company that has made itself a Net company without selling Net products.

It was Dell himself who led the charge. The 34-year-old identified and exploited benefits of doing business online, from pumping up sales to slashing the cost of taking service calls. Dell has spent heavily to improve the customer's experience at Dell.com--such as a new feature that lets purchases made online flow directly into a corporate customer's accounting systems. The payoff: ''We can interact much, much more efficiently with them than with their rivals,'' says Ford Motor Co. (F) CIO James A. Yost.

Just as important is what happens behind the scenes at Dell, where the company--and often Michael Dell himself--scrutinizes what is selling, in real-time, in order to get a jump on other PC makers. To make sure the process is as efficient as possible, the company is establishing electronic links with its top 30 suppliers. The result: Dell has a return-on-invested-capital of 260%--easily four times that of its nearest competitor.

And Michael Dell is still cranking. He's pushing his ''e-service'' concept to the next level: hardware that can automatically diagnose its problems and notify a service rep over the Net. ''Think of the Internet as a weapon there on the table,'' he says. ''Either you pick it up or your competitor does--but somebody is going to get killed.'' For Dell's rivals, that's a scary prospect.

By Peter Burrows

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[empire builders]
Jeffrey P. Bezos
AMAZON.COM INC.

Stephen M. Case
AMERICA ONLINE INC.

Timothy A. Koogle
YAHOO! INC.

[the innovators]
Louis H. Borders
WEBVAN GROUP INC.

Jay S. Walker
PRICELINE.COM

Margaret C. Whitman
EBAY INC.

Glen Meakem
FREE MARKETS ONLINE INC.

James H. Clark
MYCFO INC.

Christos M. Cotsakos
E*TRADE GROUP INC.

[bankrollers]
Masayoshi Son
SOFTBANK CORP., JAPAN

Robert C. Kagle
BENCHMARK CAPITAL

Lawton W. Fitt
GOLDMAN SACHS & CO.

L. John Doerr
KLEINER PERKINS CAUFIELD & BYERS  

Bernard Arnault
LVMH MOET HENNESSY
LOUIS VUITTON  

[the visionaries]
Mary G. Meeker
MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER

John Hagel III
MCKINSEY & CO.

William Joy
SUN MICROSYSTEMS

[the architects]
Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
IBM CORP.

Pehong Chen
BROADVISION INC.

David C. Peterschmidt
INKTOMI INC.

Kevin J. O'Connor
DOUBLECLICK

Ellen M. Hancock
EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS

[the pace setters]
David S. Pottruck
CHARLES SCHWAB CORP.

John T. Chambers
CISCO SYSTEMS

Michael S. Dell
DELL COMPUTER



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