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Summary:

Blackstone reportedly reached out to Oracle co-prez Mark Hurd to gauge his interest in being Dell CEO should Blackstone’s buyout bid succeed. Here are a few much more interesting options.

Todd Bradley,  EVP of HP's personal systems and printing group.
photo: HP

As a couple of private equity firms sorted out their bids for Dell last week, a few names bubbled to the top of the list of prospective new (that is, non-Michael Dell) CEOs.

Former IBM CEO and Chairman Louis Gerstner.

Former IBM CEO and Chairman Louis Gerstner.

Blackstone, a PE firm interested in bidding against Silver Lake Partners and Michael Dell for the company, reportedly reached out to Mark Hurd, co-president of Oracle and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Dell’s nemesis. Hurd is charged, in part, with making Oracle’s hardware business as margin-rich as its software business, and so far that effort has been underwhelming. Financier Carl Icahn is also pursuing Dell, according to published reports.

Some have also mentioned Michael Capellas, the former CEO of Compaq who helped engineer its sale to HP for $25 billion in 2001. Then-HP CEO Carly Fiorina drove that deal. Capellas was more recently involved with The VCE Co. created by EMC and VMware.

Dave Donatelli, EVP and GM of HP's Enterprise Group.

Dave Donatelli, EVP and GM of HP’s Enterprise Group.

But seriously people, if we’re going to play guessing games, let’s really play. Hurd and Capellas? Puh-leaze. Why not Louis Gerstner? Gerstner, who is credited with turning IBM around during his tenure there, has “got one more in him,” according to one of my  panel of experts on Twitter.

Or how about Todd Bradley, HP’s PC guy who was passed over as CEO at least once and perhaps twice. What better way to strut his stuff than to reinvent HP’s biggest PC-and-server rival?

Former HP CEO and Chairman Mark Hurd

Former HP CEO and Chairman Mark Hurd

Or Dave Donatelli? The HP storage-and-servers guy  is clearly not afraid to jump ship. His departure from EMC for rival HP in 2009 sparked a lawsuit.

As EVP and GM of HP’s Enterprise Group, Donatelli is responsible for “the development and delivery of server, storage, networking and technology services solutions”. That pretty much sounds like Dell’s mission statement — except for the enterprise part. As Dell’s president of software told me a week ago, Dell is more focused on SMBs than the largest enterprises, where IBM reigns.

Todd Bradley,  EVP of HP's personal systems and printing group.

Todd Bradley, EVP of HP’s personal systems and printing group.

And heck, if former HP CEOs carry a premium (why that might be is a mystery to some), why not Fiorina herself?

Others think Gerry Smith, who heads up Lenovo’s U.S. operations, would be an interesting pick. Or Carol Bartz, former CEO of Autodesk and then Yahoo.

Or, Y.K. Kim, CEO of  Samsung Electronics America. Now there’s a company that knows from success.

Intel’s outgoing CEO Paul Otellini could be looking for work.

But, since Dell is fashioning itself as a sort of IBM for the small and medium business (SMB) set, it really needs more Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) expertise. Maybe they should hire someone from Saleforce.com or Box?

One of my Twitter experts put it this way: “The market for SMB is pure SaaS plus cloud and only enterprises, [service providers], and government [accounts] will be buying hardware,” he noted.

If the new bids from Blackstone and activist Carl Icahn gel, Dell’s board has a few more days to sort through them and make its decision. Dealbook has a good explanation of the process as it will unfold now.

Of course, this new CEO discussion, as entertaining as it is, may be moot if the Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners buyout bid wins the day. If that’s the case, presumably Mr. Dell will remain CEO if he so desires. If not, let the games begin again.

  1. My guess is that if either Blackstone or Icahn win the buyout then Dell will be broken up into pieces and sold off. So there will be no need to bring in a new CEO.

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    1. @jhesr you have a good point. but it was still fun to hash this out w/ the twitterati.

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  2. If Gerstner were to become the CEO at Dell, I’d line up to work with him – the man is a business maverick. I was fortunate to work at IBM during his tenure and not only did he completely turnaround a sinking ship, he also made working at IBM a delightful and fun experience. You wanted to go to work everyday because you knew you were making a significant impact across all areas of business and technology.

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  3. I think the original offer from the group headed by Mr Dell will go through. Only he knows how much the books have been cooked over the years – overstating hardware sales and wasting billions on stock buy-backs – which makes his lower bid more realistic.

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  4. I dont think the position is open, but who knows… Maybe the author of this article knows something we dont know. Is Dell is thinking about stepping down?

    This sounds nothing more than internet drama.

    Even if a buy-out happened, no one with any business sense would seriously consider replacing the CEO of Dell. I believe that company is holding their own in this recession.

    Unlike HP who is falling apart as we speak.

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    1. @politicaljules I agree — hp is in much worse shape than dell.

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