Chairman and CEO, Dell Computer
NET WORTH $10 billion
BIO It's 1984, and you are an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin with an extra 1,000 bucks. Would you: a) throw the biggest party since Santa Anna took the Alamo, b) buy a really sweet used Camaro, or c) start selling computer components from your dorm room? Michael Dell chose c. This probably didn't make him the most popular kid on campus, but how many ex-jocks do you know who will pull down a $36 million salary this year while owning more than $6 billion worth of stock in one of the fastest-growing companies in the technology industry? By cutting out the retailers and selling custom-ordered computers directly to consumers, Dell Computer has been able to keep costly inventory at a minimum. Dell has doubled its worldwide market share over the past three years, and its website just topped $6 million in sales per day. Dell is to the computer industry what Dominos is to pizza delivery: fast, dependable and ubiquitous.
1998 POWER PLAY While the rest of the industry seemed to catch the Hong Kong flu, Dell saw its sales increase 34% in Asia last year. Its recent entry into the Chinese market and a manufacturing facility in Xiamen should help keep the good times rolling.
PLACE YOUR BETS Amazingly, Dell stock has split five times in the past four years, and it continues to perform well. While some fear that the much anticipated rise of the inexpensive network PC may cut into Dell's margins, Dell feels he has that problem covered. He sells servers too.