Semiconductor giant Marvell plans ‘significant expansion’ of Kanata footprint after acquisition

Semiconductor image
Semiconductor image

A multibillion-dollar U.S. company that manufactures semiconductors for the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google is ramping up its presence in the National Capital Region after acquiring a Kanata microchip design firm earlier this year.

Marvell said Monday it plans to launch a “significant expansion” of its Canadian footprint that will see it build out its offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver as it develops cutting-edge semiconductor technology for the cloud, 5G and automotive markets.

“Canada has become a major destination for technology and innovation, with a growing pool of semiconductor talent,” Marvell chief executive Matt Murphy said in a statement. “We are excited to further build our presence in the country and contribute to this growing and thriving community.”

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Founded in 1995, Marvell trades on the Nasdaq. The California-based firm brought in revenues of nearly $4.5 billion in fiscal 2022 and employs nearly 7,000 people at R&D centres and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Canada, China, Germany, India and Israel.

The company has grown rapidly in recent years, nearly doubling its revenues between fiscal 2020 and 2022. Much of that surge has come thanks to an aggressive M&A campaign that’s seen Marvell shell out more than US$15 billion on acquisitions since 2018. 

Growing local presence

In April 2021, Marvell acquired fellow publicly traded California firm Inphi Corp., which manufactures semiconductor components and has a major R&D lab on Legget Drive in the Kanata North tech park. Marvell further boosted its Ottawa presence in January when it acquired semiconductor design firm Rianta Solutions, which has two local offices also based on Legget Drive.

Rianta’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Nizar Rida, has joined Marvell as its vice-president of engineering and Canada country manager. Rida said the two companies were already “very close” – Rianta has been designing components for the California firm for nearly a decade – and it made logistical and financial sense for the enterprises to join forces.

“It was a natural extension for us to be part of Marvell,” Rida told Techopia on Monday afternoon. 

“They know us; we know them. The integration was almost effortless.”

“They know us; we know them. We had multiple (offers) and our staff overwhelmingly voted to join Marvell because we were very comfortable with how we operate with Marvell. Things just felt natural. The integration was almost effortless.”

Marvell does not divulge exact headcounts for specific geographic locations, but the company said it now has about 200 employees in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver combined. It said the National Capital Region accounts for nearly 75 per cent of its total Canadian employee count.

Rida said he expects Marvell to keep tapping into Ottawa’s experienced tech talent pool while putting its technology through the paces at facilities such as the Area X.O autonomous vehicle test track on Woodroffe Avenue.

“Ottawa has a long history of innovation,” said the former Nortel engineer, who helped launch three startups after leaving the one-time telecom titan – Sybraus Techologies, Galazar Networks and Rianta, all of which were later acquired by major U.S. telecom or semiconductor manufacturers.

“Some of the most advanced technologies that Marvell is looking at is going to be done here at the Ottawa office.”

With the fight for skilled engineers showing no signs of abating, Rida said Marvell hopes to lean on Rianta’s sturdy ties with Canadian universities to help deepen its bench strength. The company already accepts a steady stream of co-op students and interns from Carleton University, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, and Rida said it plans to add eight more Canadian post-secondary schools to its network by 2023.

Rida said that, even before the transaction, Rianta was already one of Kanata’s top three semiconductor design shops after global powerhouses Ciena and Huawei. Now, with Marvell’s backing, he expects the company’s growth trajectory to shift into a higher gear.

“We have a lot more tools to play with, basically,” Rida said. “There is much opportunity for us.”

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