Eleven years ago, Michael Dell, CEO of Austin, TX-based Dell Computers was asked what he would do if he were CEO of Apple Computers. His answer: “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
It’s hard to know what Steve Jobs would say if he were asked the same question today, because he rarely speaks to the press. But if he wanted to, he could do the very same thing for Dell, Inc. shareholders tomorrow and still have about $10 billion left in the bank.
Apple reported nearly $25 billion cash-on-hand at the end of FY2008 Tuesday and Dell had a market cap of about $24 billion with $9 billion cash of its own at the close of trading on Thursday, graphic indications of the changed fortunes of the two companies over the past decade or so.
Mr. Dell retains a considerable advantage over Mr. Jobs in personal wealth, however, with a Texas-sized net worth of $17.3 billion compared to Jobs’ mere $5.7 billion.
Looking at the chart above comparing the price movements in the stock of the two companies in the past ten years, you have to wonder what they’ve been up to down there in Austin, don’t you?