a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Dell + EMC — Why the Python Just Ate the Cow

Peter Levine, Ash Ashutosh, and JR Rivers

Posted October 16, 2015


We just witnessed the largest acquisition in tech history, and before Dell made it happen, it would have been hard to imagine. Not so much that the two companies would come together, but that the much smaller Dell would be buying its larger peer EMC. If he imagined anyone doing the acquisition it would have been EMC, says a16z’s Peter Levine, but the realities of being a public company and the pressure of activist shareholders are what made this an “upside down acquisition.”

“Dell was able to do this deal because they were a private company and had no activists,” Levine says. “EMC could only do this deal because they had activists.”

Levine is joined on this segment of the a16z podcast by Actifio Founder and CEO Ash Ashutosh, and Cumulus Networks Co-founder and CEO JR Rivers in a conversation examining the Dell/EMC deal. What were the technological forces that brought these two companies together, and what does that say about the future of enterprise technology and the people who buy it? Finally, what role did the public and private markets play in this deal, and what will Michael Dell need to do to pull it off?