Dell digs Digital India, eyes openings in Smart Cities

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Bengaluru | Updated: September 08, 2015 1:10 AM

Stopping short of divulging investment details, Dell said going private had helped the company think long-term and enabled it to accelerate innovation and research initiatives.

MICHAEL DELLStopping short of divulging investment details, Dell said going private had helped the company think long-term and enabled it to accelerate innovation and research initiatives. (AP)

Michael Dell, founder of the privately owned American computer technology firm that carries his name, indicated on Monday that initiatives such as Make in India and those in the Digital India space had the potential to write a new chapter in the firm’s India investment diary. “The Smart Cities project is a tremendous opportunity for us,” Dell observed at an interaction with the media. The Dell chief also signalled he was watching the Indian start-up ecosystem closely. “I met with companies like Inmobi and some of them here are doing interesting work. I want Dell to be an entrepreneur’s best friend,” he said.

Stopping short of divulging investment details, Dell said going private had helped the company think long-term and enabled it to accelerate innovation and research initiatives. The company has grown 30% across all businesses in India, the highest growth in the Asia Pacific-Japan region, encouraging it to take a deeper look at the country and especially at projects like Smart Cities.

Dell said the decision to pull back from being a publicly listed company and morph back into a privately held one was one of the best decisions he had taken. There has been a 28% rise in the number of patents Dell has filed since turning private, indicating the nature of the research and development activity at the firm. This would have been difficult if the company had to look at short- term records, something that would have been unavoidable for a publicly listed company, he said. “Going private has ignited the employees. Decisions are being taken faster, and these are not dictated by stock prices,” Dell said.

Dell, who is also the UN ambassador for entrepreneurship, said India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has “improved dramatically”. The firm is on the lookout in India for start-ups that can leverage its expertise. Dell as a company had probably dropped off the charts in terms of innovation for a while, but its founder on Monday said now it’s all about reinvention.

India Educational Investment Fund (IEIF), an early-stage impact investment fund floated by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, has already invested in two companies in the education sector, Report Bee and Guru-G. While Report Bee is a cloud-based learning platform for the education sector to measure and improve learning using data analytics, Guru-G is provider of gamified platforms for teachers.

“For us, the hardware business is still a great one,” Dell said, ruling out the possibility of getting into the mobile space. “Only one or two companies are making a profit in that market.” He was also not appreciative of Hewlett-Packard’s decision to split itself into two, wherein HP Inc will sell printers and personal computers and HP Enterprise will handle the data centre hardware and enterprise services business. HP has decreased its scale, Dell remarked. Over the next 25 years, Dell is planning to become the “world’s largest technology start-up”, but if that has to become a reality a few innovative products have to roll off its conveyor belt. His engagements with Indian start-ups seem to be a step in that direction.

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