Seagate Technology

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Seagate Technology PLC
TypePublic limited company
S&P 500 Component
IndustryComputer storage
PredecessorShugart Technology
FoundedNovember 1, 1979; 41 years ago (1979-11-01) (as Shugart Technology)
FoundersAlan Shugart
Tom Mitchell
Doug Mahon
Finis Conner
Syed Iftikar
Headquarters47488 Kato Rd, Fremont, CA 94538, United States (operational)
Dublin, Ireland (legal domicile)
Area served
Key people
Stephen J. Luczo (Chairman)
Dave Mosley (CEO)
James J. Murphy (Exec. VP)
Ravi Naik (CIO)
ProductsHard disk drives, hybrid drives and solid-state drives
RevenueIncreaseUS$10.51 billion (2020)[1]
DecreaseUS$1.3 billion (2020)[1]
DecreaseUS$1.0 billion (2020)[1]
Total assetsIncreaseUS$8.93 billion (2020)[1]
Total equityDecreaseUS$1.79 billion (2020)[1]
Number of employees
42,000 (2020)[2]

Seagate Technology PLC (commonly referred to as Seagate) is an American data storage company. It was incorporated in 1978 as Shugart Technology and commenced business in 1979.[3] Since 2010, the company is incorporated in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Fremont, California, United States.


Seagate developed the first 5.25-inch hard disk drive (HDD), the 5-megabyte ST-506, in 1980. They were a major supplier in the microcomputer market during the 1980s, especially after the introduction of the IBM XT in 1983. Today Seagate, along with its competitor Western Digital, dominates the HDD market. Much of their growth has come through their acquisition of competitors. In 1989, Seagate acquired Control Data Corporation's Imprimis division, the makers of CDC's HDD products. Seagate acquired Conner Peripherals in 1996, Maxtor in 2006 and Samsung's HDD business in 2011.

Founding as Shugart Technology[edit]

Seagate Technology (then called Shugart Technology) was incorporated on November 1, 1978, and commenced operations with co-founders Al Shugart, Tom Mitchell, Doug Mahon, Finis Conner and Syed Iftikar in October 1979.[4] The company came into being when Conner approached Shugart with the idea of starting a new company to develop 5.25-inch HDDs which Conner predicted would be a coming economic boom in the disk drive market.[5] The name was changed to Seagate Technology to avoid a lawsuit from Xerox's subsidiary Shugart Associates (also founded by Shugart).[6]

Early history and Tom Mitchell era[edit]

Seagate ST-225, cover removed

The company's first product, the 5-megabyte ST-506, was released in 1980. It was the first hard disk to fit the 5.25-inch form factor of the Shugart "mini-floppy" drive. It used a Modified Frequency Modulation (MFM) encoding[7][8] and was later released in a 10-megabyte version, the ST-412. With this Seagate secured a contract as a major OEM supplier for the IBM XT, IBM's first personal computer to contain a hard disk.[citation needed] The large volumes of units sold to IBM fueled Seagate's early growth. In their first year, Seagate shipped $10 million worth of units to consumers. By 1983, the company shipped over 200,000 units for revenues of $110 million.[5]

In 1983, Al Shugart was replaced as president by then chief operating officer, Tom Mitchell, in order to move forward with corporate restructuring in the face of a changing market. Shugart continued to oversee corporate planning. By this point, the company had a 45% market share of the single-user hard drive market, with IBM purchasing 60% of the total business Seagate was doing at the time.[5]

In 1989, Seagate acquired Control Data's (CDC) Imprimis Technology, CDC's disk storage division, resulting in a combined market share of 43 percent.[9][10] Seagate benefited from Imprimis' head technology and reputation while Imprimis gained access to Seagate's lower component and manufacturing costs.[9]

Second Al Shugart era (1990s)[edit]

In September 1991, Tom Mitchell resigned as president under pressure from the board of directors, with Al Shugart reassuming presidency of the company. Shugart refocused the company on its more lucrative markets and on mainframe drives instead of external drives. He also pulled away from the practice of outsourcing the production of components overseas, which allowed Seagate to better keep up with demand as the demand for PCs increased extremely rapidly in 1993 across the market.[11][citation needed] This included a domestic partnership with Corning Inc., which began using a new glass ceramic compound to manufacture disk substrates.[12] In 1991, Seagate also introduced the Barracuda HDD, the industry's first hard disk with a 7200-RPM spindle speed.[13]

In May 1993, Seagate became the first company to cumulatively ship 50 million HDDs over its firm's history.[14] The following year Seagate Technology Inc moved from the Nasdaq exchange to the New York Stock Exchange, trading under the ticker symbol SEG. Upon leaving, the company was the 17th-largest company in terms of trading volume on the Nasdaq exchange.[15] In 1996, Seagate merged with Conner Peripherals to form the world's largest independent hard-drive manufacturer.[16][17] Following the merger, the company began a system of consolidating the components and production methods within its production chain of factories in order to streamline how products were built between plants.[18]

In May 1995, Seagate Technology acquired Frye Computer Systems, a software company based in Boston, Massachusetts.[19] that developed the LAN monitoring software kit The Frye Utilities for Networks,[20] which won PC Magazine's "Editor's Choice" award in 1995.[21]

In 1996, Seagate introduced the industry's first hard disk with a 10,000-RPM spindle speed, the Cheetah 4LP. The product increased to a speed of 15,000-RPM by 2000 with the release of the Cheetah 15X.[22] In May 1997, the High Court of Justice in England awarded Amstrad PLC $93 million in a lawsuit over reportedly faulty disk drives Seagate sold to Amstrad, a British manufacturer and marketer of personal computers.[23] That year Seagate also introduced the first Fibre Channel interface hard drive.[24][25]

In 1997, Seagate experienced a downturn, along with the rest of the industry. In July 1998, Shugart resigned his positions with the company.[26] Stephen J. "Steve" Luczo became the new chief executive officer, also joining the board of directors.[27]

First Steve Luczo era (1998–2004)[edit]

Luczo had joined Seagate Technology in October 1993 as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development.[28] In March 1995, he was appointed Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and chief operating officer of Seagate Software Holdings. In 1996, Luczo led the Seagate acquisition of Conner Peripherals, creating the world's largest disk drive manufacturer and completing the company's strategy of vertical integration and ownership of key disk drive components. In September 1997, he was promoted to the position of President and chief operating officer of Seagate Technology Inc.

In 1998, the board appointed Luczo as the new CEO and Seagate launched a restructuring effort. Historically, Seagate's design centers had been organized around function, with one product line manager in charge of tracking the progress of all programs. In 1998, Luczo and CTO Tom Porter characterized the organizational redesign of design centers into core teams organized around individual projects to meet the corporate objective of faster time to market.[29] As the CEO, Luczo decided to increase investment in technology and to diversify into faster-growing, higher-margin businesses. He decided to implement a highly automated platform strategy for manufacturing. Between 1997 and 2004, Seagate reduced its headcount from approximately 111,000 to approximately 50,000, rationalized its factory footprint from 24 factories to 11 factories and reduced design centers form seven to three. During this period, Seagate's output increased from approximately 9 million drives per quarter to approximately 20 million drives per quarter.

In 1998, the company's Seagate Research facility was also established in Pittsburgh,[30] a $30 million investment that focused on future technologies and prototypes. Technology developed by the center would include devices like the hard drive disk for Microsoft's first Xbox.[31]

In 1999, Seagate shipped its 250 millionth hard drive.[32]

In May 1999, Seagate sold its Network & Storage Management Group (NSMG) to Veritas Software in return for 155 million shares of Veritas' stock. With this deal, Seagate became the largest shareholder in Veritas, with an ownership stake of more than 40%. However, the Seagate board of directors felt that the market was incredibly under pricing Seagate's stock, as was clear from a 200% increase in Veritas stock versus only a 25% increase in Seagate's stock.[33]

Becoming a private company in 2000[edit]

In 2000, Seagate became a private company again. Luczo led a management buyout of Seagate, believing that Seagate needed to make significant capital investments to achieve its goals. He decided to turn the company private, since disk drive producers had a hard time obtaining capital for long-term projects.[34]

In early November 1999, Luczo met with representatives of Silver Lake Partners to discuss a major restructuring of Seagate. After two failed attempts to increase Seagate's stock price and unlock its value from Veritas, Seagate's board of directors authorized Luczo to seek advice from Morgan Stanley in October 1999. In early November 1999, Morgan Stanley arranged a meeting between Seagate executives and representatives of Silver Lake Partners.[34] On November 22, 2000, Seagate management, Veritas Software and an investor group led by Silver Lake closed a complex deal taking Seagate private in what was at the time the largest buyout ever of a technology company.[35][36] The total deal, worth about $20 billion, included the sale of its disk-drive operations for $2 billion to an investor group led by Silver Lake Partners. The goal of the deal was to unlock the value of the 33% ownership stake Seagate had in Veritas, which had put the value of Seagate's stock at around $33 billion even though its market cap was only $15 billion.[32] The company was incorporated in Grand Cayman and stayed private until it re-entered the public market in 2002.[37]

Both the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Harvard Business School have written multiple case studies on the Seagate buyout and turnaround. In addition, several leading management books have cited the Seagate turnaround in the contents.

Re-emerging as a public company (2002–2010)[edit]

Luczo became the Chairman of the board of directors of Seagate Technology on June 19, 2002. In 2003, he accepted an invitation from the New York Stock Exchange to join its Listed Companies Advisory Committee.[38]

In 2003, Seagate re-entered the HDD market for notebook computers and provided the 1-inch disk hard drives for the first iPods. This led to a trend of digital devices being created with progressively more and more memory, especially in cameras and music devices.[39] The following year, The New York Times called Seagate "the nation's top maker of hard drives used to store data in computers", as its revenue forecast outpaced Wall Street estimates towards the end of the year.[40]

When the company separated the roles of chairman and CEO in 2004, Luczo resigned as the Seagate CEO on July 3, 2004, but retained his position as Chairman of the board of directors.[28] Bill Watkins became CEO.

At the beginning of 2006, Forbes magazine named Seagate its Company of the Year as the best managed company in the United States. Forbes wrote that, "Seagate is riding the world's gadget boom. Its 1-inch drives are the archives for cameras and MP3 players." It also credited Seagate as being the company that "sparked the personal computer revolution 25 years ago with the first 5.25-inch hard drive for the PC".[41]

In 2007, Seagate created the hybrid drive concept.[42]

In April 2008, Seagate was the first to ship 1 billion HDDs. According to CNet, it took 17 years to ship the first 100 million and 15 years to ship the next 900 million.[43] In 2009, Bill Watkins was released from employment as CEO.[44]

Second Steve Luczo era (2009–2017)[edit]

In January 2009, Luczo was asked by the Seagate Board to return as CEO of the company, replacing Bill Watkins. As of the date of his hiring, Seagate was losing market share, facing rapidly declining revenues, was lagging in product delivery with high manufacturing costs, had an excessive operating expense structure and had a balance sheet that was burdened with $2 billion of debt that was due within 2 years. The company's market value was less than $1.5 billion.

Luczo revamped the entire management team, and quickly reorganized the company back to a functional structure after a failed attempt to organize by business units in 2007. Led by a new head of sales, Dave Mosley, a new head of operations and Development, Bob Whitmore, and a new CFO, Pat O'Malley, the team worked to address the multitude of challenges that it faced. By the end of 2009, the company had refinanced its debt and had begun to turn around its operations. In 2010, Seagate reinstated its dividend and began a stock buyback plan.

In 2010, Seagate announced that it was moving its headquarters and most of its staff from Scotts Valley to Cupertino, California.[45]

In June 2010, Seagate released the world's first 3 TB hard drive.[46] In September Seagate released the first portable 1.5 TB hard drive.[47]

In July 2011, the company changed its country of incorporation from the Cayman Islands to Ireland.[48][49]

In December 2011, Seagate acquired Samsung's HDD business.[50]

In 2012, Seagate continued to raise its dividend and repurchased nearly 30% of the company's outstanding shares. In the fiscal year ended June 2012, Seagate had achieved record revenues, record gross margins, record profits and regained its position as the largest disc drive manufacturer, and its market value had increased to over $14 billion. In March Seagate demonstrated the first 1 TB/square inch density hard drive, with the possibility of scaling up to 60 TB by 2030.[51]

In 2013, Seagate was the first HDD company to begin shipment of shingled magnetic recording drives, announcing in September that they had already shipped over 1 million such drives.[52]

In February 2016, Seagate was hit with class action lawsuit over the defective hard drives they sold.[53]

In August 2016, Seagate demonstrated its 60 TB SSD, claimed to be "the largest SSD ever demonstrated", at the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara.[54]

In January 2017, Seagate announced the shutdown at Suzhou, China - one of its largest HDD assembly plants.[55]

Dave Mosley era (2017–present)[edit]

On July 25, 2017, David "Dave" Mosley was appointed CEO, effective from October 1, 2017.[56]

In 2020, Seagate announced that it was moving its headquarters and most of its staff from Cupertino to Fremont, California.[57]

In September 2020, Seagate announced it had entered the object-storage business and introduced CORTX, an open-source object storage software, Lyve Rack, a reference architecture based on CORTX, and a corresponding developer community. The community is a group of open-source researchers and developers working to advance mass-capacity object storage.[58][59] CORTX open-source software is hosted for download and collaboration on GitHub.[60]

Corporate affairs[edit]

Former Seagate Technology headquarters in Cupertino, California

Seagate was traded for its early existence as a public company under the symbol "SGAT" on the NASDAQ system, then moved to the NYSE under the symbol "SEG" in the 1990s. In 2000, Seagate incorporated in the Cayman Islands in order to reduce income taxes. In 2000, the company was taken private by an investment group composed of Seagate management, Silver Lake Partners, Texas Pacific Group and others in a three-way merger-spinoff with Veritas Software; Veritas merged with Seagate, which was bought by the investment group. Veritas was then immediately spun off to shareholders, gaining rights to Seagate Software Network and Storage Management Group (with products such as Backup Exec), as well as Seagate's shares in SanDisk and Dragon Systems. Seagate Software Information Management Group was renamed Crystal Decisions in May 2001. Seagate re-entered the public market in December 2002 on the NASDAQ as "STX."[32][37]

Partnerships and acquisitions[edit]

Finis Conner left Seagate in early 1985 and founded Conner Peripherals, which originally specialized in small-form-factor drives for portable computers. Conner Peripherals also entered the tape drive business with its purchase of Archive Corporation. After ten years as an independent company, Conner Peripherals was acquired by Seagate in a 1996 merger.[61]

In 2005, Seagate acquired Mirra Inc., a producer of personal servers for data recovery. It also acquired ActionFront Data Recovery Labs, which provides data recovery services.[62] In 2006, Seagate acquired Maxtor in an all-stock deal worth $1.9 billion, and continued to market the separate Maxtor brand.[63] The following year, Seagate acquired EVault[62] and MetaLINCS, later rebranded i365.[64]

In 2014, Seagate acquired Xyratex, a storage systems company, for approximately $375 million.[65][66] The same year, it acquired LSI's flash enterprise PCIe flash and SSD controller products, and its engineering capabilities, from Avago for $450 million.[67][68]

In October 2015, Seagate acquired Dot Hill Systems Corp., a supplier of software and hardware storage systems, for approximately $696 million.[69]


In 2015, one of Seagate's wireless storage devices was found to have an undocumented hardcoded password.[70]

On January 21, 2014, numerous tech articles around the globe published findings from the cloud storage provider Backblaze that Seagate hard disks are least reliable among prominent hard disk manufacturers.[71][72][73] However, the Backblaze tests have been criticized for having a flawed methodology that has inconsistent environment variables, such as ambient temperatures and vibration, and disk usage;[74][75] in addition, Backblaze's statistics show that the vast majority of installed drives at Backblaze are Seagate, and Backblaze editor Andy Klein has noted "that a large number of new Seagate drives being deployed could be statistically responsible" for failure rate data in their specific datacenter population.[76] In the broader landscape, Seagate enterprise drives have been named most reliable for seven years running in the well-respected IT Brand Pulse survey of top IT professionals, and have been cited as leader the last two years running in every measured category: reliability, performance, innovation, price, and service and support.[77] Backblaze has released an updated page of statistics which shows that Seagate drives had by far the most failures in Q2 2019. Best by far were Toshiba.[78]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]