OCZ Technology is one of the leaders in both Solid State Drive (SSD) and Power Supply Unit (PSU) technologies. Having just hit their 10-year mark as a company, they’ve established themselves as one of the leaders for gamers when it comes to essential components for their PC gaming rigs. Gaming Illustrated had the opportunity to speak with CMO and Executive Vice President of OCZ Technology, Alex Mei, to discuss the last 10 years, find out where OCZ stands on a variety of tech subjects, as well as find out where they are headed in the immediate future.
GI: We’re at 10 years for OCZ and to say the company has made waves in the industry for PC gaming enthusiasts would be modest. For those still at OCZ that go back 10 years, did you ever really think you’d get this far? At what point in your history did you really “believe” that you’d be around for the long haul?
Alex Mei: When OCZ first started it was all about creating products that pushed the envelope in performance, whether that was overclocking, gaming, or productivity applications. I think we always “believed” that there was a significant need for these products, and even though we had to adapt and change both from a product line and business standpoint, it was this belief that we could continually innovate and design products that offered real value to customers which brings us to where we are today as an organization.
GI: On your company website it states that it was founded by enthusiasts and we’re guessing there’s a fair share of gamers around the OCZ office. What games do you catch people playing (*after hours* of course!)?
Alex Mei: You guessed it. There are quite a few employees that proactively do “research” on the latest titles. While we do have a number of console gamers the majority of employees seem to prefer Gaming on the PC, and we have a lot of FPS players as well as those that enjoy playing Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, and Skyrim, just to name a few.
GI: OCZ was one of the first to make the leap into offering SSDs to the masses. Now, it’s an absolute must for a decent PC rig to have one. Aside from sales numbers, what kind of satisfaction does it bring knowing you changed how people build their computers?
Alex Mei: I think the “satisfaction” really comes from developing and providing products that customers really desire, products that not only address a performance need but deliver a better experience whether deployed in a gaming desktop, laptop, workstation, or server. We have tried to make SSDs more accessible for gamers and also introduced innovative products that leverage new interfaces, like the RevoDrive 3 PCIe SSD for power users, which is able to deliver both capacity and performance by eliminating the SATA bottleneck. Our goal is to continue down this path of innovation when it comes to next generation solid state storage.
GI: Certainly, not all SSDs are made the same. Certainly even a dullard would know that 60GB is less than 240GB and a fairly knowledgeable enthusiasts would look for read/write speeds to compare brands and models. Past that, what would you recommend for enthusiasts to look at when shopping?
Alex Mei: This is a great question and you are absolutely right, there are many different aspects beyond just sheer capacity. Many companies simply rebrand SSDs but we design and manufacture our own drives and leverage our in-house controller company, Indilinx, which we acquired a year ago. This allows us to create differentiated SSD platforms. Most consumers will look at sequential read and write speeds when considering SSDs, and while this is certainly important they should also consider other factors like IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second), and performance with all data types. For example our Vertex 4 SSD was designed with the fast sequential read speeds (up to 560/MB/s) and is optimized for consistent high speeds with the complete spectrum of file types including both compressible and incompressible data, so no matter what the application or game the drive will deliver snappier real world performance.
GI: Speaking to OCZ’s well decorated PSU line, could you talk about what the Gold 80 rating exactly means and why consumers should pay attention to the various ratings for PSUs that exist?
Alex Mei: The Gold 80+ rating is a certification that the power supply be 87% or greater efficiency at multiple loads (20%, 50%, and 100%), making them more efficient than other traditional power supplies. This is just one feature within higher end power supplies, but should be considered by any gamer looking to cut energy costs and reduce their environmental impact.
GI: Fatal1ty has been a longtime spokesperson for OCZ and with the rise of e-Sports, will we eventually see others join the OCZ stable for sponsorship?
Alex Mei: We enjoy working with Fatal1ty and have collaborated on memory in the past as well as high performance power supplies designed specifically for gamers. Not only does Fatal1ty provide valuable feedback into the design of each product, he also speaks to a large audience and has become an ambassador for the e-Sports in general. As far as what the future holds we constantly evaluate partnerships and sponsorships with individuals or organizations that are also passionate about gaming and performance.
GI: Taking the last question a little further, what’s OCZ’s high-level strategy when it comes to e-Sports – is there a high level of interest or are you more looking for that one singular well-respected person to represent your brand?
Alex Mei: At the end of the day our goal with e-Sports is to have a close dialogue with gamers and Fatal1ty helps provide a unique perspective of what both competitive and recreational gamers need and want from their gaming PSUs. We also actively sponsor gaming events and competitions and look for ways to support gamers with our other product lines as well, including our solid state drives. We remain committed to delivering products that help gamers not only compete but enjoy a more immersive experience and as the e-Sports landscape continues to grow and evolve we will always keep our eyes open for those that can help further interest in gaming.
GI: What metrics does OCZ use to determine if a product they release is ultimately successful?
Alex Mei: You might think the simple answer is just straight sales but we measure the success of a product over the long term. We are constantly innovating to meet the needs of the ever-changing requirements of our customers and a product is only successful if it provides real value to our customers and stands up to the test of time. We also consider service after the sale a major part of the equation and should any customer have a question about configuration or an issue of any kind we want to make sure they receive excellent support. Nothing is more rewarding than when we get an email from a satisfied customer who experienced a “game” changing performance with our products or support.
GI: What’s one thing about OCZ that not a lot of people might know, but should?
Alex Mei: A lot of people may not know that we were literally started in a garage by a number of passionate overclockers, gamers, and engineers that wanted to squeeze more performance out of CPU’s and DRAM. This is where the very name of the company came from. OCZ was basically an acronym that was created to represent “OverClockerZ.”
GI: Finally, you have a ton of dedicated PC gamer fans that swear by your product line. What would you like to say to them for their loyalty to your brand and what can you promise them about what OCZ is up to in 2012 and in 2013?
Alex Mei: I would just like to personally thank all our customers for all their loyalty and support over the last decade. It has been an amazing ride and the company has been fueled by our great customers and the passion we share for innovation and performance. Though our product focus has changed over the years, our commitment to delivering value through performance, features, and pioneering solutions remains, and our valued customers can be sure that we will continue pushing the envelope even further when it comes to both solid state storage solutions and power management in the years to come. We not only want to make our products higher performance, we also want to make them more affordable for all customers so that they can take advantage of the latest technology within their unique applications. If there is a way for us to deliver more innovation and value to address everyday performance challenges, or simply help consumers better enjoy their computing experience, you can be sure we will be working on it.
We’d like to that OCZ Technology and Alex Mei for their time to support this interview.