Memory chipmaker Micron quietly grows Austin presence

Micron employs 40 at its Austin-based storage software development office. 

Posted April 12th, 2016

In 2014, memory chip company Micron Technology quietly opened its first Austin office. 

There was no press release, and no big hiring announcement. On Tuesday Micron finally announced its presence in Austin by bringing in several top-level executives to discuss new product announcements

The Austin office - called the Micron Storage Solutions Center - is staffed with 40 people, mostly software engineers and sales representatives. It is the engineering home for a Micron storage software development team. 

Darren Thomas, former Vice President and General Manager at Dell Enterprise Storage, is shown in a portrait taken in 2011. He is now the vice president of Micron's storage unit. 

"We've been in stealth mode," said Darren Thomas, who is the vice president of Micron's storage unit and is a former Dell Inc. executive. Thomas said Micron plans to grow its headcount in Austin to 70.

Micron develops solid-state drives, which is a type of data storage built around flash memory that is most often used in tablets, smartphones and ultra-light laptop computers. These memory chips are typically speedier than hard drives. 

Data centers are also using solid-state drives, and part of Tuesday's announcement in Austin was the introduction of a new portfolio of solid-state drives for data centers that offers improved performance. 

The company also announced its "Accelerated Solutions" software developed in Austin, which helps data centers that use Micron memory optimize their performance. 

It was developed in collaboration with server and data storage firms VMware, Supermicro and Nexenta.

The Austin facility is run by Steve Moyer, Micron's vice president of storage software engineering.

Thomas said Austin was a logical spot for its software development team because of the engineering talent in Central Texas. 

"There is such access to phenomenal talent, especially in the software world," Thomas said, noting that some of Micron's major customers, such as IBM and Dell Inc., are within driving distance of Micron's North Austin facility. 

Micron is a $16-billion company that is based in Boise, Idaho, and employs 31,800 people globally. 

RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMANServers at Micron's North Austin office. 

Micron is one of the biggest memory chip makers in the world. Most of its sales come from "dynamic random access memory," or DRAM, which is used in computers but also cars, networking equipment and servers.

The company also develops NAND Flash, otherwise known as flash memory, which makes up about 33 percent of its sales. 

The company has struggled financially recently, reporting a loss of $97 million in its latest quarter, and sending its stock price down nearly 40 percent since the start of the year.