Solidigm CEO: spinning out of Intel to SK Hynix ‘gives us the greater scale we need’

By Joseph F. Kovar for CRN ‘We’re working on back-end manufacturing capability with the agility to figure out where we want to do the assembly of the SSDs. We have wafer supply coming out of China, and we’ll have wafer supply, a different technology, coming out of Korea. … We work very closely with the governments to make sure we fully understand what we need to do and are maximizing the supply we can get for our customers,’ says Solidigm CEO Rob Crooke.

What brought you to Solidigm?

What’s brought me to Solidigm is my work at Intel. I’d been working at Intel for quite a while. And I’d been running the memory business for Intel for the last 10 years. So we had a tremendous run at Intel. We’re very grateful for our time there. We went from very close to zero to over $4 billion in revenue, and delivered some great innovations in the data center and client SSD space. We also created what I would call a great foundational culture to build on. But to get to the next phase, we had to do something different. And so the creation of Solidigm, as a subsidiary of SK Hynix, gives us the greater scale we need to reach that next phase. And I’m honored to be the new CEO after talking to SK Hynix. I was heading the memory business for Intel, so it was a natural thing. With the commitment of a growth memory-focused company like SK Hynix and backing of the even larger SK Group, we’re excited about building on what we built at Intel to build something even bigger.

You talked about this move as away to gain greater scale. How important is scale?

Let me put it in the context of our customers. For our customers, we want to play a bigger role in their success. We want be their go-to partner for optimized storage. In order to do that, we want to create a broader portfolio of products and technology more optimized for their use. We want to have a larger supply footprint that’s needed in a faster growing market. And we want to have the scale to have the staying power to be a partner that can grow with them. That’s what customers are looking for. And scale gives us that: the ability to invest more in a broader portfolio, both technology and products; larger supply footprint; more global; and the staying power they need. They’re investing in partnerships with us, and partnerships are a big deal for us. Storage is a critical element of customer solutions, and they want someone there that they’re partnering with that they can count on in the future.

So why didn’t Intel want to do that on its own?

I think you’ll have to ask Intel. But my view is, there’s a lot of opportunity for Intel in the logic space. And there’s a huge focus there to grow their business in terms foundry and what have you. And there’s a lot of work for them to do. They needed to focus on that. And a company like SK Hynix that’s a memory-focused company is a better fit to get to larger scale because there’ll be significant investment in capacity and in R&D required… Full interview


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