While Hong Kong based Pine Group might not be a familiar name to us, the graphics company it created in 2002 is an all too familiar name in graphics card shoot-outs around the world. XFX is a serious player in a very competitive market. Against a backdrop of a tough economic environment and global political upheaval, XFX has been doing the business. And doing it well. KitGuru is prepared to blame Sales VP, Cy Brown.
Although born in Devon, Cy Brown has neither the accent or the webbed fingers you might associate with natives of the farming country. At nine years old, his family moved to Basingstoke and, later, he settled near Milton Keynes.
His journey through the technology industry has been just as varied.
Cy Brown started his technology sales career working in the repair contracts market, back in the days when a simple keyboard was so expensive that it was worth sending off to repair, instead of replacing it. No popping to the supermarket for a £6.99 replacement – in those days a keyboard could cost you well over £100.
“It was fun in those days”, he explained. “You’re so young and enthusiastic that you just go for it. Every sale gives you a kick and you feel like the world’s your oyster”.
His ability to close deals was quickly noticed by major component manufacturer PC Chips. Like Pine, PC Chips is a company that’s far more famous for its brands than it is in its own right. In this case, ECS or Elite Group Computer Systems. As the price of PC hardware began to tumble, so the volume of PCs being sold increased exponentially.
“In that environment, we were winning a lot of business”, said Cy. “We were one of the largest companies in the industry, which meant we could be extremely cost competitive when bidding for huge deals. As a result, the largest UK system builders quickly moved their bulk orders to PC Chips”.
Which brings us to Milton Keynes, right?
Big smile, then “It was great. Our offices were directly above All-Bar-One. Which was perfect for entertaining clients as well as celebrating every deal we landed”.
Pine’s background in audio and I/O cards stood it in good stead when it made the move to full-blown graphics card manufacture. The XFX brand was launched in 2002 and Cy was seen as the perfect addition to the team. His drive and determination to win deals on behalf of the (then) 100% nVidia house, saw him soar through the ranks and now – in ‘post 100% move to AMD’ mode – Cy Brown is XFX’s VP for Sales.
So why has XFX done so well, both as a an nVidia and AMD house? We put the question to Cy.
“We always do things differently”, he explained. “Everything is about innovation and improving on the reference products. Nowhere is that clearer than when you look at our Double Dissipation technology for the latest, high-end Radeons”.
“You could see the power of the XFX Double Dissipation cooling solution when the Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition launched”, said Cy. “I seem to remember Zardon calling it one of the finest cooling solutions ever seen“. Yep. No argument there.
And the future?
“We’ll never stop”, said Cy. “It’s a very competitive market, but we’re a very competitive company. XFX will carry on innovating to make sure our customers can be proud that they have bought the very best graphics products available”.
KitGuru says: If we have one complaint about XFX, it’s that they no longer ship in the huge X boxes – we really miss those! Big thanks to Cy for taking the time to share his thoughts – and for allowing us to photograph his very latest card.
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