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Dell to acquire enterprise e-mail service MessageOne

The PC maker has said it plans to buy the company for $155 million.

Updated at 5:55 AM PT to include comments from Dell.

Dell is expanding its horizons a bit further.

The PC maker plans to acquire enterprise e-mail service MessageOne for $155 million in cash, the company said early Tuesday.

Though Dell has made very few acquisitions over its two decades in business, this one isn't that much of a stretch: Austin, Texas-based MessageOne, which manages the process of archiving, e-discovery, and long-term storage of e-mail, was founded by Adam Dell, the brother of the PC maker's CEO, Michael Dell.

To ensure fairness, the company says founder and chairman Michael Dell was excluded from the negotiation and decisionmaking related to MessageOne.

Steve Shuckenbrock, Dell's chief information officer and president of Dell Global Services, says it was actually his idea to buy the company after MessageOne approached him about starting a commercial relationship.

"As soon as I brought this idea forward, Michael realized it was a related-party action, and recused himself," Shuckenbrock said in an interview.

MessageOne services will be available to Dell customers as another of its growing stable of software services for enterprise customers. It's the fourth business software buy for Dell in the last six months: first SilverBack Technologies, then ASAP Software, and Everdream. Chief rival Hewlett-Packard has also been building up its services offerings through acquisition.

Though this is not its traditional course of action, Dell isn't hesitant these days about growing through acquisition. "Where an acquisition can help us accelerate the capability for our customers faster, we're certainly not shy about using our assets to do that," said Shuckenbrock.