Why did Dell make a CFO switch?

January 24, 2014: 2:01 PM ET

DellDell's CFO is out after six years on the job. What happened?

FORTUNE -- Dell Inc. today made its first major management change since being going private late last year, announcing that chief financial officer Brian Gladden is leaving the company. His replacement will be Thomas Sweet, who had been serving as the computer-maker's corporate controller and chief accounting officer.

Michael Dell lauded Gladden's "many contributions" in a prepared statement, while Gladden said that "as Dell turns the page to start its next chapter, I have decided it is the right time for me to do the same."

It is entirely possible that Gladden does indeed feel that his job at Dell is done, and he's excited about some new opportunity (a Dell spokesman notes that Gladden once was a CEO, and aspires to be one again). And it's equally possible that Michael Dell is saddened by Gladden's departure, and tried to convince him to stay.

But let me propose a more cynical scenario: Gladden was pushed, either explicitly or implicitly.

Gladden was the company's chief financial officer, but Dell's financial performance consistently came up short of its internal projections. In fact, things got so bad during the buyout process that Dell's special committee paid The Boston Consulting Group to provide an independent financial analysis of the company's prospects. In other words, Dell could no longer trust the numbers they were getting from Gladden and his team.

At the time, I wrote that "it's kind of a wonder that CFO Brian Gladden still has his job."

Well, now he doesn't.

Sign up for Dan's daily email newsletter on deals and deal-makers:

  • Silver Lake investors double down on Dell

    Silver Lake discloses $350 million "co-investment" on Dell.

    FORTUNE -- It seems that Carl Icahn may not be the only one who thinks Michael Dell got a bargain by agreeing to buy his eponymous company for $24.9 billion.

    Silver Lake Partners, the private equity firm working with Michael Dell, has disclosed in a regulatory filing that some of its limited partners are making an aggregate co-investment of $350 million. In other words, MORE

    - Oct 28, 2013 4:31 PM ET
  • Michael Dell tweets what's next for Dell

    Michael Dell gives "interview," after getting shareholder approval for his $25 billion buyout of Dell Inc.

    FORTUNE -- Dell Inc. shareholders last Thursday approved a $25 billion buyout of the company by founder and CEO Michael Dell, working in partnership with private equity firm Silver Lake.

    The vote came more than 14 months after Dell and Silver Lake first discussed the possibility of such a transaction, and seven months after the agreement MORE

    - Sep 16, 2013 12:11 PM ET
  • Decision day at Dell

    The long Dell saga nears its conclusion.

    FORTUNE -- Dell Inc. shareholders today are expected to approve a $24.5 billion buyout of the company by CEO Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake, more than seven months after the agreement was first announced.

    Since then there has been a go-shop process that included serious interest from The Blackstone Group, Carl Icahn's entry into the fray, crumbling PC industry data, numerous vote MORE

    - Sep 12, 2013 6:30 AM ET
  • Southeastern breaks even on Dell deal*

    * Well, at least on the shares it sold to Carl Icahn.

    FORTUNE -- Back in June, mutual fund Southeastern Asset Management sold over half of its 8% stake in Dell Inc. (DELL) to Carl Icahn, who had joined SAM in opposing Michael Dell's efforts to take Dell private. SAM sold the shares at a discount to the $13.65 per share buyout offer, believing that Icahn would be in a stronger MORE

    - Sep 9, 2013 4:20 PM ET
  • Icahn: I've lost to Michael Dell

    Michael Dell nears knockout of Carl Icahn.

    FORTUNE -- Carl Icahn today acknowledged that he will be unable to thwart Michael Dell's attempts to take Dell Inc. (DELL) private, with Dell shareholders expected to approve the $25 billion deal this Thursday.

    Icahn has been fighting the PC maker's founder and CEO for months, and has become its largest outside shareholder with nearly a 9% stake. But he recently lost a key legal MORE

    - Sep 9, 2013 10:55 AM ET
  • What will Icahn say about Dell earnings beat?

    Dell has a surprisingly strong quarter. Does that change the PR math?

    FORTUNE -- Dell Inc. (DELL) today reported $14.48 billion in second quarter revenue and non-GAAP earnings of $0.25 per share, compared to analyst estimates of $14.5 billion in revenue and $0.24 EPS.

    Within those figures

    So an obvious question: How does Carl Icahn respond?

    For months, Icahn has been effectively accusing Dell management of intentionally sabotaging the company's financials, so as to MORE

    - Aug 15, 2013 4:25 PM ET
  • The never-ending Dell deal?

    Putting the Dell sale in timeline context.

    FORTUNE -- The Dell (DELL) buyout seems to have been dragging on forever, but it has a long ways to go before calling the folks at Guinness.

    From what I can tell, the longest formal buyout process of all time belongs to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners' pursuit of Clear Channel Communications.

    In that case, Clear Channel announced on Nov. 14, 2006 that it MORE

    - Aug 5, 2013 1:27 PM ET
  • Dell rejects revised bid, but with a giant escape clause

    Dell makes its founder an offer he probably can't refuse.

    FORTUNE -- Michael Dell and Carl Icahn finally have something in common: They are annoyed with Dell Inc.'s special committee.

    Dell's (DELL) special committee this morning rejected a new buyout proposal from Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake, which would have raised their offer from $13.65 per share to $13.75 per share in exchange for a voting rules change that MORE

    - Jul 31, 2013 9:34 AM ET
  • Michael Dell raises bid for Dell

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners increase their offer to $13.75 per share. But there's a catch.

    FORTUNE -- Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners have increased their buyout offer for Dell Inc. (DELL) from $13.65 per share to $13.75 per share, just hours before a shareholder vote that has now been pushed back until next Friday.

    The increase is a tacit admission that Michael Dell and Silver Lake could not round MORE

    - Jul 24, 2013 8:27 AM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.