Social Networking, Security, and Michael Dell’s Teenage Daughter

Michael Dell’s daughter is in the news this week.

I first got a chance to meet Michael Dell in June of 2000 when he spoke at the National Press Club.  The event was coordinated by a friend, the ever so sweet and very hip Gayela Bynum, and moderated by Jack Cushman, who was the Club’s president that year, and who I was able to work with on some tech projects at the Club – Jack was one of the key club leaders at the Club who recognized the power of the World Wide Web early on.

The entire event is still online at C-Span’s online video archives:

Michael Dell at the National Press Club - June 8, 2000

I was in the audience, right up front:

June 8, 2000 - Michael Dell at the National Press Club

I remember clearly that the introduction for Michael Dell was stunning, even to me, and I thought I’d known Dell Computers fairl well already.  Michael Dell, at 35 years old, was announced by Jack as “the youngest CEO of any Fortune 500 company”.  Dell Computers had already become the top seller of personal computers worldwide at the time, selling $40M per day online.  Jack went on to say that Dell stock had risen 79,000 percent in the prior ten years, and in 1999 the Wall Street Journal named Dell Computers as the number 1 company in terms of total return to investors in the previous 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year periods.  You can hear all of this in the video link above.

Michael Dell was already a rather wealthy man that day in 2000.  He’s even more so now.  And he reportedly spends about $3 million on private security.

But that didn’t stop his daughter from taking to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to do what pretty much most teenagers do nowadays:  announce their every move and constant whereabouts to the world through social apps.

Unfornately for the very typical teenager, her parents aren’t so typical.  And apparently somebody in the mix didn’t like that she published a detailed invitation to a graduation dinner, two weeks in advance, with the exact whereabouts of everyone involved out there for the world to see.  (“Dell CEO’s Daughter Booted From Twitter For Security Reasons”,, August 14, 2012)

So her Twitter account has been shut down.  Alas.

Security is an issue when you’re a gazillionnaire.  But for that matter – it’s an issue for all of us.  Just because you weren’t the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 in June of 2000 doesn’t mean you should ignore your own personal security today.

Something to consider.

Going back to that June 2000 speech I attended … if you watch that video, you’ll near Jack close the event with a great line.  The Club always gives an official National Press Club coffee mug to each speaker at the end of their talk, as one of a few tokens of appreciation for the speaker’s efforts and time.  Jack presented the mug to Michael as the “world renowned and highly coveted National Press Club coffee mug”, adding: “I recommend you install java in this before you use it”.  HA!  Such a geek thing to say, I love it.  And that’s the lower case “j” since Jack was clearly referring in that context to “java” as coffee, not the computer language.

But you knew that.

Leave a Reply