Careers at SanDisk
SanDisk’s mission is to enrich people's lives through digital storage - anytime, anywhere.
SanDisk is a provider of flash storage devices and software. The company has five reportable product segments:
- Removable - Includes cards, USB flash drives, and audio/video players.
- Embedded - Includes products that connect to a host system board.
- Enterprise Solutions - Includes system solutions, SSDs (solid-state drives), and software used in data center applications.
- Client SSD Solutions - Includes SSDs used in client devices and related software.
- Other - Includes components, accessories, wafers, and license and royalties.
Eli Harari was an immigrant from Israel who had settled in Palo Alto, CA. In 1988 he started work on “System Flash”, an idea designed to replace hard-disk drives (HDDs) with battery-operated, portable devices. Harari partnered with two other émigrés and memory tech experts to develop the concept -- Sanjay Mehrotra of India and Jack Yuan of Taiwan. They created the product and founded the company that would market it, SunDisk; it was incorporated in June of that year. Its name came from a suggestion by Harari’s young daughter who thought it should sound “cheerful and sunny”.
The following year SunDisk filed a patent application for a technology similar to a magnetic disk drive in removable flash storage products. In 1990 it took things a step further, identifying its vision: flash memory for an “emerging new class of compact, portable products, such as hand-held computers, electronic notebooks, solid-state cameras…and cellular telephones." As such, it had goals of creating storage solutions for products that did not even exist yet.
The next few years saw a number of significant events. In 1991 SunDisk unveiled the first Flash-based SSD, designed for IBM’s ThinkPad pen computer. In 1992 the company worked with Kodak, Canon, and other camera producers to make card slots in digital cameras standardized. In 1994 SunDisk went public at a price of $10 per share. At this time it officially changed its name to SanDisk to avoid confusion with Sun Microsystems, a computer systems/software firm that was later acquired by Oracle. SanDisk celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. It now ships over two million products daily, has sold two billion microSD cards since 2005, and is the third-largest flash memory producer globally.
Benefits at SanDisk
Business model of SanDisk
SanDisk has a segmented market business model, with customer groups having slightly different needs:
- Consumers - Individuals whose primary uses for storage include imaging, gaming, and audio/video.
- Businesses – Enterprises with large-scale needs whose sizes range from small businesses to advanced data centers.
- OEMs - Designers and manufacturers who create products for consumers and businesses.
In 2015 sales from SanDisk’s top 10 direct customers and licensees accounted for 44% of its overall revenue. Apple alone accounted for 14%.
SanDisk offers three primary value propositions: accessibility, performance, and brand/status.
The company makes its products available in a broad range of capacities, form factors, and performance levels. Its enterprise SSD solutions comprise all top storage interface protocols, including Serial ATA (SATA), Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe). Its client computing SSDs can be used in a standalone format (without a hard drive) or in a dual-drive configuration (with a hard drive) or in hybrid drives that contain the SSD and a hard drive. Client SSDs are available in custom and industry-standard form factors. These many options make SanDisk’s product lines accessible to a wider variety of customers.
The company has launched many innovations that have led to stronger performance in its products. For example, it introduced Multi-Level Cell (MLC) technology, which uses two bits of data per flash memory cell to double the “density” of memory chips. It also unveiled X3 NAND, which stores three bits per cell to provide 20% more memory chips-per-wafer. In general, SanDisks’ solutions have expanded flash memory capacity by 30,000 times while minimizing its cost by 50,000 times.
The company has a strong, well-established brand. It is trusted by customers due to its long history (over 25 years). Its products are found in many leading data centers worldwide and in hundreds of thousands of stores. It has also received recognition due to its performance and success. From 2012 to 2014, Thomson Reuters identified it as one of the “Top 100 Global Innovators”. In addition, IEEE Spectrum has stated that it has one of the most robust patent portfolios globally.
SanDisk has two main sales channels:
Commercial – Sales made directly and through distributors to system integrators, OEMs, and value-added resellers who embed, integrate, or bundle SanDisk’s storage solutions.
Retail – Sales made directly and through distributors to office superstores, consumer electronics chains, mobile phone stores, Internet retailers, mass merchants, mail-order and catalog companies, supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, and kiosks in numerous locations.
The company also promotes its products on its website, social media pages, at events such as conferences and summits, and through advertising.
SanDisk’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website provides detailed answers to many frequently answered questions. That said, there is a community component in the form of an online forum and a personal assistance component in the form of phone, e-mail, and live chat support.
SanDisk’s business model entails designing and developing its storage solutions. Manufacturing is left to third-parties.
SanDisk works with a wide variety of partners to produce its products. Most of the company’s products consist of NAND flash memory combined with firmware and a controller. These parts are manufactured by third parties -- flash memory supplies by Toshiba Corporation and controllers and firmware by third party foundries. The company’s other partners include mobile network operators, operating system vendors, system integrators, design firms, application developers, and chipset providers.
SanDisk’s main resource is its engineering team. Other important human resources include its sales/marketing and customer support staff. The company places a high priority on intellectual property – as of the end of 2015, it owned or had rights to over 3,550 U.S. patents and over 2,250 foreign patents. In addition, it had over 1,300 patent applications pending.
SanDisk has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is research and development, a fixed expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and administration, also fixed costs.
SanDisk has two revenue streams. It generates revenues through the sales of its products in the Commercial and Retail channels. It also obtains license and royalty revenue through its intellectual property.
info: Sanjay earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer and SVP of Engineering of SanDisk.
info: Judy earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MBA from Santa Clara University. She previously held financial oversight positions at 3Com, Hewlett-Packard, and Ridge Computers.
info: Sumit earned a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He previously served as President of Sunrise Capital and SVP of Strategy and Business Development at Freescale Semiconductor.
info: Manish earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering as well as an MBA from MIT. He previously served as VP of the Strategic Program Office at SanDisk and held positions at Matrix Semiconductor and McKinsey & Company.
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