Make It

Michael Dell Started a Billion-Dollar Tech Company in His Dorm Room—If He Was a Teen Today, ‘I'd Be All Over' Crypto

David A. Grogan | CNBC

In 1984, at 19 years old, Michael Dell started Dell Technologies out of his University of Texas dorm room with just $1,000. Today, he's grown the company into a tech behemoth with a market value of nearly $80 billion.

But if Dell was starting out in 2021, he'd likely dabble in a different kind of tech.

When asked about his thoughts on young people starting out in the crypto space, whether it be with digital coins or other assets like nonfungible tokens (NFTs), Dell says that "if I was a teenager right now, I'd probably be all over that."

In fact, he's personally invested in a few blockchain enabling technologies, the 56-year-old tells CNBC Make It. "I think it's super interesting. There's still a lot to be worked out in terms of what the investment looks like, and what type of investment it is for everyone, but I think it's interesting."

That goes for his company as well. "We're helping a lot of customers implement blockchain at sort of the enterprise level," Dell says.

Growing up, Dell had many of the same hobbies and interests as kids today who spend their time mining cryptocurrency or developing NFT projects. Just like kids today may rebuild their computers to mine, Dell would often take apart and rebuild different tech, such as phones and computers.

At 13, Dell worked random jobs to save up for an Apple II personal computer. Once he received it, he immediately took it apart to see how it worked, he wrote in his new book, "Play Nice But Win: A CEO's Journey from Founder to Leader."

"My parents either encouraged it or laughed it off when I took stuff apart," he says. "I suppose a lot of parents would come home and if their kids were taking their television apart or the telephone, they might be like, 'What are you doing?' But my parents were a lot more tolerant of that."

Dell also collected things like stamps and baseball cards, similar to how today's kids enter the digital collectibles market through NFTs.

In addition to his knack for understanding microcomputers and microprocessors, Dell was also interested in finance and math. At a young age, he liked following different stocks, currencies and gold. He read business newspapers with his parents, and even discussed the moves of the Federal Reserve.

All in all, that's why Dell thinks he'd be "all into" blockchain tech if he was growing up today.

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