Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Marvell is a technology maker that primarily produces electronic components used in digital storage and consumer electronics. Today, it has over 7,000 employees spread across seven nations. Marvell is known as a “fabless” semiconductor manufacturer, which means they outsource the actual construction of the semiconductor to a manufacturer highly specialized in building the units.

Using the fabless process, Marvell is able to ship over one billion circuits per year. Those chips will find their way into mobile phones, laptops, networking devices and other consumer gear.

The company was founded in 1995 by Sehat Sutardja, his wife and his brother. They managed to outlast the dot-com bubble, and raised $90 million in capital by the year 2000 through a public offering. The stock began at $19, but went as high as $55.25 per share within three days of opening. This was during a time when Toshiba, Fujitsu, Seagate, Hitachi, and Samsung had an overwhelming market share of 97%, so the odds were fairly stacked against the young Marvell.

Marvell’s business model is fairly simple. With outsourced manufacturing, the company can handle the crucial process of assembling the final chip and cut costs on semiconductor development. In addition, it fuels its expansion into new market segments with strategic acquisitions. XScale is a good example of this strategy at work. The purchase of the XScale microarchitecture from Intel fueled Marvell’s expansion into communications manufacturing, while Qlogic technology allowed Marvell to construct new controllers for hard disks and tapes.

Marvell is traded on the NASDAQ as MRVL.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his LinkedIn page.

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