Michael Dell: It Is Time For You to Go

Last Updated Aug 18, 2010 8:26 PM EDT

An SEC filing yesterday revealed that a quarter of Dell (DELL) proxies abstained in a vote on Michael Dell's continued presence on the company's board of directors. That's not as bad as Yahoo (YHOO) co-founder Jerry Yang did in 2008 on the heels of bad financial performance, but it's still a significant reaction to the disastrous string of poor results and scandals that have dogged the man and his company for years.

There comes a time when people and organizations must part ways. That time has arrived for Dell. There would be no company without the founder and CEO, but, taken in total, his stewardship has been worse than any other high tech leader. The best thing he could do for the company, its employees, shareholders, business partners, and customers is realize that his day passed some time ago. He should move on and make room for others who might be able to right the strategic, financial, and ethical performance of Dell.

Let's take a quick review of some of the things have happened:

Under Michael Dell, the company has managed to squander a major market lead, shatter shareholder value, and also get embroiled in a series of activities that make Apple (AAPL) and its CEO Steve Jobs look like the poster children for corporate transparency and openness -- even after not information shareholders about Jobs real health issues.

To argue that Michael Dell the man could still be relevant to Dell the company is to argue that the good of a business and its real owners should take second stage to the ego of a founder. Bill Gates had the grace to step down as head of Microsoft (MSFT) when it was time. Too many CEOs in high tech companies -- whether Adelphia, Worldcom, Computer Associates, or twice at HP (HPQ) -- have held on even though they were clearly a detriment. Michael Dell should step down before any more embarrassment -- or damage -- can occur.


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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.