Marvell's Weili Dai: Israel's technology enthusiasm suits us

Following three acquisitions in Israel, the company has 1,200 Israeli employees, a sixth of its global workforce.

"Israeli high tech is blessed with talent. There's an enthusiasm for technology, which suits Marvell, which is a company with passion. Israel is an extraordinary source of innovation, with skilled workers. I've even learned a few words of Hebrew in addition to "hag sameach" (Happy holiday) and "shana tova" (Happy New Year). I can even say, with the appropriate hand movement, "Lama, ma karah?" (Why, what happened?), Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL) co-founder and VP sales communications and services Weili Dai told "Globes" in an exclusive interview. She was speaking ahead of her participation in the Israel Conference in Los Angeles on June 3.

Marvell, one of the world's largest semiconductor companies, was founded in 1995 by three immigrants to the US: Two brothers from Jakarta, Indonesia - CEO Dr. Sehat Stuardja and CTO Dr. Pantas Sutardja, and Sehat's Shanghai-born wife, Weili Dai.

Weili Dai arrived in the US as a student at University of California, Berkeley. Since 2007, the three co-founders have been included on the "Forbes" list of billionaires.

Marvell, which began as a developer of processors for hard drives, now develops processors for a wide range of fields, including mobile communications, storage, enterprise networks, and routers. The company has also invested in and acquired Israeli companies. Following three acquisitions in Israel, the company has 1,200 Israeli employees, a sixth of its global workforce.

Weili Dai, 47, once played basketball for her high school in China. She loves to cook Chinese food and has such a special fondness for design that she was involved in the interior decorating, and selection of drapes and carpets, at Marvell's headquarters in Santa Clara. She is awed by Marvell's progress in the past decade, with its revenue rising from $21 million in 1999 to $3 billion in 2009.

Marvell, in contrast to many other semiconductor companies, has grown almost entirely through organic growth. Even during the boom years, the company did not go on shopping sprees. Weili Dai says, "We developed advanced technology. From the earliest stages of the company, we did this well. We built deep and organic foundations, which continue to underpin the company. On the other hand, we've sometimes seen opportunities and acquired a company."

"Globes": What are your criteria for acquisitions?

Weili Dai: "Strong synergy with the company's products. We're very focused, and we only make acquisitions when they're strategic. We're not like many companies that do a lot. Our acquisitions were initially in communications and later in storage. They were all found to be important to the enterprise. During the past decade, we've also turned to mobile communications, especially smartphones. This is definitely one of our important directions."

Weili Dai says that Marvell's vision is now focused on mobile communications. "There are more smartphones and they're becoming a critical communications device. This is a sector that we expect to grow," she says.

The semiconductor industry has had a rough few years. How do you see the near future?

"This is a cyclical industry. There were ups and downs. Marvell's philosophy is long-term, but when looking at the market, the past decade was about the Internet. Today, the world is moving forward and searching for information is no longer the most important thing. The important thing now is mobile connectivity for every device everywhere. That's why we're developing a full silicon platform that will connect every device and help push content in the next decade."

The Israel Conference

The Israel Conference in Los Angeles is organized as a meeting of Israeli entrepreneurs, start-up executives, and investors with American high-tech, cleantech, life sciences, media and entertainment investors and corporate executives. Keynote speakers will include International Technologies chairman Yossi Vardi, Oracle president Safra Catz, Microsoft Israel research center president Moshe Lichtman, Google president global sales operations Nikesh Arora, Google Israel R&D Center director Yossi Matias, SanDisk chairman and CEO Eli Harari, and Qualcomm VP technology Noam Ziv.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on May 31, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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