Marvell Technologies head upbeat about Israel operations

Co-founder of second-largest chipmaker in Israel talk to the 'Post' about the future of hi-tech, President Shimon Peres.

June 18, 2013 22:53
Weili Dai

WEILI DAI co founder Marvell Technologies 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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With more than 1,200 employees in Israel, Marvell Technologies is the second-largest chipmaker in Israel, second only to Intel. Its co-founder, Chinese-born Weili Dai, 51, sat down with The Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to talk about hi-tech, the future of the industry and President Shimon Peres, who invited her to join him for his 90th-birthday celebrations this week.

Welcome to Israel.
Are you looking forward to the Presidential Conference?

I’m extremely excited and honored because I was invited to attend President Peres’s 90th birthday, who is dear to my heart. My husband and I met him a few times. He’s celebrating 90, but he’s so savvy in terms of technology and such a brilliant man, it seems like he’s turning 29.

Tell me about Marvell and its operations in Israel.

The first time I came here was in 2001, when we acquired Galileo, then in 2003 for RADLAND, then six years ago for the Intel division in Petah Tikva. We have over 1,200 people in Israel, making us the second-largest semiconductor maker in Israel, next to Intel. I believe in the talent and the intelligence of the Jewish people, so the acquisition helped me understand that. It’s like the snowball effect. You get to know the country, understand an operation that’s mature and successful, and then the team helps us to expand. We have networking, infrastructure and mobile here.

To someone who doesn’t understand much about chips, can you explain the difference between Marvell, Intel, Qualcomm and the others?

I like to compare the tech world to a pizza. We’re the pizza dough. The tomato sauce is the operating system – the Google, Microsoft, Blackberry – and the toppings are the applications. It’s selfassembled.

Server is the deep dish.

In comparison with the others, first of all, from the technology offering side, we have a lot more breadth in the coverage.

If you think about storage, for example, we’re number one. In the new era of digital lifestyle and cloud computing, storage is a critical. Intel and Qualcomm are not playing in that space.

Marvell is a diverse semiconductor company. We’re playing mobile and are one of the key leaders in LTE. We’re very strong in networking, and there’s a lot of talent and technology coming from Israel in that area. Even though we’re one of the youngest – just 18 years old – we’ve built a very solid foundation, and it’s allowed us to expand and scale very diverse markets.

What sort of technology is Marvell cooking up?
What’s next on the cutting edge?

This is extremely important. The technological field for semiconductors today is no longer about stand-alone chips supporting stand-alone products. We need to do three major things: First, develop the technology; we’re fortunate to have the one-stop shop, a very rich tech portfolio for made-to-fit solutions.

Second is the software; that’s so key.

And the third piece is to continuously develop technological advancement in terms of technology performance.

These are the basic ingredients that can build a solid pipe, and the processing capability performers will. All those pieces must work in one ecosystem. It’s no longer, “Oh, I made a chip for X product.”

The next big thing will be “smart furnishing” – any surface can be a live screen. It can be anything you want – the mirror, a wall. People can just install smart wallpaper, and that’s your live screen. This is how you’re going to decorate your home, office, public places, everywhere. Our partnership with Google on Google TV is a perfect example.

It’s not just a console, it’s not just a TV, it’s your big smart-viewing surface of everything. This year is going to be big for this type of concept. Suddenly your big-screen technology can be scaled globally and affordable to every single home. The beauty is that android, a global platform, will moving forward and take a big step for the big screen to the home.

There’s a debate in Israel about taxing corporations for the fiscal good and giving international companies incentives to invest here.
Where is the balance?

I want to congratulate Israel for its success in hi-tech and its contributions.

The reason I say this is that since 2001, when we first bought Galileo and started our center, Israel has become like Silicon Valley. If you look at Silicon Valley, in a 50-mile radius it has an all-in-one environment – you’ve got great research centers like the Lawrence lab, the Xerox Park, IBM lab, HP lab. Then you have top schools like Berkeley and Stanford and others, and you have a very high concentration of hi-tech companies, from the semiconductors to the software players and the little start-ups, and also the talent, which is very important.

If you look at Israel, it’s very similar – local talents, great schools – so it’s important to attract international companies from around the world. Whatever policy each country sets needs to be suitable for what makes sense globally and what’s important locally. Here we see more talent and will continue to expand.

You’re a rare female executive.
What advice do you have for women trying to get ahead in a male-dominated industry?

It is my belief that women today, even though they’re mothers, wives and in my case leading a global company, already have the track record and have proven to the world that they’re capable to lead any industry. When you think about women, I call them givers, caretakers.

They have their own talent, and we feel it’s our duty to take care of people, but in a positive sense. It’s a sense of pride. I don’t look at it as a task. If I take care of my husband and children more, I feel really happy. They’re the glue.

They’re multi-taskers. That’s also great for the workplace.But having said that, it’s the teamwork that makes the world successful.Women have their own natural talent.

So do men. If we combine them together, the world is a lot more powerful and the family is much happier. It really has to do with the upbringing. How successful each individual is goes back to the parents grooming them as kids, teaching them. Everything is about a good foundation and hard word – there’s no shortcut. There are two words I breathe everyday: fair and care. It always has to be a win-win, whether in business or family.

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