Thursday, January 11, 2007

“Plant a Tree, Save My Company!”

Michael S. Dell, who made his name building computers, has a new goal: planting trees.

In a speech Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show here, Mr. Dell urged the electronics industry to foster the planting of trees to offset the effect on the environment of the energy consumed by the devices they make.

—New York Times

While Steve Jobs was, once again, changing the known world—this time with a device whose major flaw may be its name (the “iPhone” is no more a mere “phone” than it is a tomato)— Michael Dell, who once dominated the personal computing world with his low cost, low reliability, low service business model, was rather desperately attempting to change his company’s image with a challenge:

“I challenge every PC vendor in the industry to join us in providing free recycling.”

What Mr. Dell means to do is to recycle the carbon emissions generated by the electrical demand from computers through the founding of a program called “Plant a Tree for Me.”

Nice as the thought is that one of our Captains of Industry is interested in something other than building the biggest house in Portola Valley or sending paying customers on rocket-based joy rides to the outer atmosphere from the Texas flatlands, there does not appear to be a whole lot of thought behind this notion.

According to the Times:

Customers would donate $2 for every notebook computer they buy and $6 for every desktop PC. The money would be given to the Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund, two non-profit groups that promote ways to reduce or offset carbon emissions, to buy and plant trees.

Now, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re thinking “What kind of tree does six bucks buy, let alone two?”

Answer: a Dell Tree.

Let’s just hope the Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund have better customer service reps than the folks at Dell. They’re gonna need ‘em.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2007 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


Honorable Justice Jorge P. Smythe said...

deltree is a great old DOS command that would delete an entire directory structure. Dell is simply going back to his roots.

There is enough pun in that to confuse Larry Magoon.

Gone to the blogs said...

Cripes, give the guy a chance for once. He also devoted a good portion of the keynote to admitting various shortcomings in customer experience, the remedial steps underway and the progress made thus far.

Also, regarding the looks to me like Jobs and company may have "iBorrowed" the device's form factor directly from the LG KE850 and name directly from Cisco/Linksys.

tahoe kid said...

I'll go out on a 'limb' and say the trees in question will not be "Apple" trees.

Metroplexual said...

If they are apple trees I am sure they will be Dellicious. Okay enough bad puns, seriously, Small starter trees are about a quarter to a dollar apiece as saplings. I have given them as housewarming gifts and it is amazing how quickly they grow.

BDG123 said...

I bet it's the Tree of Life. If Mr. Dell was serious about being green, he would continue to drive the electronics parts industry to use less toxic manufacturing processes, commit to making a greener PC and recycle each Dell PC purchased at end of life. The toxins in a PC & the associated parts manufacturing processes are not going to be offset by planting a tree. Frankly, if he were smart, he'd do what other tree companies are doing. Plant a pulp producing tree and sell it as a REIT. Use the income to do something magnificent for society.

Aaron Koral said...

"...there does not appear to be a whole lot of thought behind this notion."

Au contraire, Jeff - Michael Dell's keynote speech at CES was, in my humble opinion, very well thought out.

Dell's speech on his firm's corporate responsibility to the environment was, in critical thinking terms, an informal fallacy.

Specifically, I think Dell used part of his speech as an emotional appeal to joy, where something should be done (i.e., donating money when purchasing a Dell computer to plant a tree) only because it will make the person doing it feel good (i.e., I feel great whenever I buy a laptop/desktop from Dell because I can help save the environment!)

Investors should remember, however, that this is the same company who delayed filing its latest 10-Q not once but twice. In the spirit of your mantra, I am not making that up - readers can see for themselves by clicking here.

I wonder whether Dell's environmentally-friendly appeal was nothing more than a red herring to shift investors' focus away from his company's inability to file its latest 10-Q on time due to accounting issues? Just wondering, and I could be wrong in my analysis.

Alex Khenkin said...

"Customers would donate $2 for every notebook computer they buy and $6 for every desktop PC."
What?!! So this is all the hard work form one of the richest guys in the world? Say what you will about ol' B. Gates, but when he wants to "change the world" he spends his own money. Mr. Dell wants his customers to spend their money on his fancy. No thanks. Reminds me of all these charity drives by millionaire celebrities: "C'mon, people, shell some more of your money to see us play one more time - all for a good cause"!
Small Investor Chronicles

DaleW said...

Propagated by cuttings or seeds, the materials and labor content placed in the correct geographic location can buy you two trees.

Anonymous said...

Dear Honorable Justice Jorge P. Smythe: I am Larry Magoon, and it didn't confuse me at all. I'm old enough to have started in IT WAY before DOS! I'd sure like to know who you are!