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A $50 Billion Man And A Journalist: Two Stories Of Understated Excellence

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 16, 2021

This story appears in the August/September 2021 issue of Forbes Magazine. Subscribe

The “billionaire space race” emerged as a cultural moment this summer in large part because of the profiles of the competitors: In Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, you have three of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world, two of the absolute richest . . . and two of the absolute loudest. In so many ways—the ambition and innovation, the outlays and narcissism—they embody what many love about visionaries and resent about the ultrarich.

That makes this issue’s cover so refreshing. Without many having noticed, Michael Dell has pulled off one of the great deals of all time, taking private his seemingly washed-up eponymous computer maker and transforming it, again, into one of the world’s most important tech companies. In the process, he’s built himself a $50 billion fortune without fanfare or bravado.

The story’s talented writer, Antoine Gara, reminds me of Dell. Soft-spoken, the senior editor is also someone who lets his actions do the talking. His reporting has been at the center of pretty much every M&A story of the past two years, from the SPAC and nonfungible token manias to the first big profile of Ark’s Cathie Wood to his award-winning coverage of Robinhood and meme trading. “Wall Street and finance are changing faster than ever before, with a new generation of firms and players,” says the 35-year-old. “It’s in the details where reporters can explain what’s really going on.”

Gara knows what to look for because he’s been there. An analyst at Lehman Brothers when it went under in September 2008, he emerged with a determination to demystify this opaque world. “I thought I could do a good job getting to the bottom of good stories,” he says.

That he does. And like Michael Dell himself, Gara shows that in a world that typically rewards the loudest voices in the short term, long-term success—and real impact—comes instead through understated excellence.

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