Michael Dell might think twice about dishing out a sales pitch to a world leader in the future after Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin very publicly dissed his patronising offer of help.
The founder of computer giant Dell attended the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland yesterday. Putin had just delivered a comprehensive 40-minute speech at the show, which was followed by a Q&A session.
After praising the country’s technical deftness, Dell-boy asked the ex-KGB agent: “How can we as an IT sector help you broaden the economy as you move out of a crisis and take advantage of that great scientific talent that you have?”
Putin immediately snapped back at Dell's apparently naïve sales patter.
"We don't need any help," he barked. "We are not invalids. We don't have limited capacity. Pensioners should be helped, developing countries should be helped."
Putin then went on to outline steps the Russian government has taken to wire up the country, including how it had even reached remote villages in Siberia with internet access.
He also put a final boot into Dell by talking about how Russian boffins were in fact rightly respected for their software rather than hardware, implying that anyone could build a computer.
Putin's venomous scolding came on the same day that Dell confirmed it would be hit by a $280m charge, or 11 cents a share, in its Q4 results due on 26 February.
The PC vendor told the US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday that it will feel the pinch from pre-tax charges to cover relocating some of its manufacturing and distribution units by fiscal year 2011. ®