🌟 MICHAEL DELL: 6 things from his SXSW talk
Source: Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images
- 5 min read

🌟 MICHAEL DELL: 6 things from his SXSW talk

Plus, another Rainey Street bar just closed.


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🌧️ G'morning, Austin.

Looks like we have anything but luck for St. Patrick's Day weekend: It's expected to be rainy and stormy through Sunday. Womp womp.

But a golden ray of sunshine for today: We saw Michael Dell, AKA our OG homegrown tech billionaire, speak at Southby on Thursday. See what he had to say about our fair city of Austin.

Then, see which Rainey Street bar just closed, and read how Austin will be an Airbnb hot spot for the eclipse.

Michael Dell knows Austin's character isn't going anywhere

Fun fact: Austin isn't this newfound, 21st-century tech hub.

It has housed the brightest minds in the technology sphere for decades, since the 1960s and 1970s with Texas Instruments and then, in the 1980s, Dell Technologies, which was founded by this fella below: Michael Dell.

Michael Dell addresses the Mobile World Congress convention in Spain last month. Source: Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images

He was an Austin techie before it was cool (sorry, Cybertruck owners).

We went to his Thursday talk at SXSW, where he largely spoke about technology (we promise we won't go too far into the weeds on that front) and his love for the Austin area: Dell set up shop in Round Rock all those years ago.

Here are some fun facts and highlights from the chat:

  1. Dell used a hand-me-down station wagon from his parents for one of his first entrepreneurial ventures when he was 16.

He and some high school buddies would sell newspapers in the Houston area. He noticed many of the buyers were either moving into new houses or getting married. So he had the idea to find more folks that fit into those two categories by digging for public lists of people who had applied for marriage licenses and mortgages.

β€œIt was an early lesson in direct marketing, for sure,” Dell said.

Meanwhile, at 16, I was seeing how many sodas I could mix together at Dairy Queen.

  1. He dropped out of UT when he was a freshman at 19.

This is a well-known fact, but it's worth bringing up: Our boy Dell founded his company out of his UT dorm room, the Austin equivalent of the Silicon Valley garage-founder origin story.

(It was room 2713 at Dobie Center, which is now the on-campus dorm Dobie Twenty21.)

  1. Dell has been married to his wife, Susan, since 1989.

She's been a confidant of his over the years through some rocky business moves, Dell said.

β€œLeading a company can be a lonely job to begin with," he said.

  1. Dell said AI is on his radar.

OK, this is the only tech-y highlight we'll include. But it was a big part of Dell's chat β€” and he said that bringing AI into the industry "is an enormous priority for us."

"This one feels bigger, more important and more significant than any of the other ones," he said about this current buzzy AI wave.

  1. Dell apparently puts on internal Battle of the Bands sessions.

Yeah, you read that right. Dell said the company's software developers and programmers are regular Eddie Van Halens.

  1. Austin has "kept a lot of its character," even with all the growth, Dell said.

"It's been an incredible attracter of people with talent," he said. And as it's been for decades, the proximity to UT grads helps fuel the success of the businesses that set up shop here (OK, Musk, we see you).

"If you have a great company, there's always a good university nearby," Dell said, adding that he's "very bullish" on Austin and Texas in general.

And what makes Austin Austin β€” like its free spirited culture and one-of-a-kind music scene β€” is just as important as always.

"There's a lot of hippies that are still here helping to keep the city beautiful," he said.

β€” Katie Canales, Editor

Temperature: 74 degrees | Sun: Hidden | What to Expect: Wet SXSW Music Festival

A cold front will move through, along with a chance for heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. Expect overcast skies and gusty north winds. Be careful with your umbrellas: They might get flipped inside out while walking around SXSW.

Mary’s Tip: If SXSW isn’t your vibe, maybe a low-key movie night is the way to go.

One more Rainey Street bar bites the dust

We really didn't want to have to do this. We just wrote about an Austin Graveyard yesterday, for crying out loud.

But we've discovered that another Rainey Street staple has joined Austin's dearly departed: Stagger Lee.

A representative from FBR Management, which owned the bar, confirmed to us in an email that Stagger Lee is indeed shut down and has been since March 3 "due to the end of their lease and inability to agree on updated terms."

Rest in peace, Stagger Lee on Rainey Street. Source: Google Street View

We asked the rep to explain that last tidbit β€” no response by the time we published. The bar is also marked "permanently closed" on Google.


The de-Raineyfication continues. We've written about it before: A strip of historical bungalows-turned-bars became a beloved place for many of us. But it grew so popular that developers came to build, and commercial rent spiked so much that the bars became priced out.

Stagger Lee is the fifth staple on the street's bar hop scene that has closed since 2020. And it doesn't have plans to reopen at a new location, the rep said.

BRB, gonna go cry into our Friday night margs.

β€” Katie Canales, Editor

🌝 Austin: The eclipse rental hot spot

Airbnb says that renters will flock to Austin and the Hill Country more than anywhere else in North America to watch the April 8 total solar eclipse. Our lil slice of Central Texas topped the company's list for travelers looking to rent an Airbnb in the path of totality.

Texas towns are preparing for shortages and traffic nightmares as eclipse viewers roll in, with Bell County having declared a "state of disaster" as it expects its population to double.

Most of the Airbnb renters heading to places in the path of totality are coming from New York City, Airbnb reported. Total solar eclipses occur in a given area only once every 375 years.

Rounding out the top 5 Airbnb destinations for April 8: MazatlΓ‘n, Mexico; Indianapolis; Montreal and Cleveland.

β€” Randi Stevenson, Managing Editor

We’re so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind today’s send: Katie Canales, Mary Wasson and Randi Stevenson.