When Razer went on a building and buying spree that saw it morph from a PC peripherals company to a publicly traded do-it-all gaming hardware manufacturer, Corsair was clearly paying attention — on Monday, it took the penultimate step in a similar journey by filing its own IPO paperwork.
And within the S-1 filing, we can finally see just how big a company Corsair has actually become. The company says it pulled in a billion dollars in revenue last year, and now commands over 18 percent of the US market share in gaming peripherals and nearly 42 percent of gaming PC components. (The company doesn’t say how big it is worldwide.)
Corsair claims it’s now the number one seller of high-performance computer memory, cases, power supplies, coolers and gaming keyboards, as well as second in “performance controllers” and “streaming gear,” though one of those categories stands out: of that $1.097 billion in 2019 revenue, $429 million came from Corsair’s best-known business since 1998: selling RAM modules to slot into PCs.
Interestingly, aside from sourcing the memory chips from vendors like Samsung and Hynix, Corsair manages the RAM business all by itself in Taiwan, while almost all of Corsair’s other gear is produced by third-party suppliers in Asia. (The latter isn’t unusual in the electronics industry; iPhones are produced in factories operated by Foxconn, not Apple.) It sounds like the only other products it makes itself are from the businesses it recently acquired: Origin PC’s boutique gaming rigs, and Scuf Gaming’s customizable controllers. It also bought Elgato’s streaming gear business in 2018.
And while Corsair has been losing money on all of these businesses over the last couple of years — a $13.7M loss in 2018 and an $8.4M loss in 2019 — it seems that COVID-19 has been good to Corsair. The company saw a $23.8M profit between January and June 2020 alone.
While Corsair says it generally sees higher shipments in the holiday season, Corsair says the coronavirus gave it “double-digit revenue growth” across most of its businesses, and that it believes the demand is “generally due to shelter-in-place requirements caused by COVID-19.” Seeing how big COVID was for Logitech’s business and some of the flight stick and webcam shortages, it’s not hard to believe.
Corsair touches on mobile gaming, cloud gaming and augmented and virtual reality in its “risk factors” section, all as things that potential investors might want to beware. The company says it has “no plans to develop gear specifically designed for gamers who use mobile devices or tablets”; is worried it may not be able to develop gear for AR and VR devices; and says cloud computing could reduce the demand for its slate of gaming PC and console products period.
That’s a little bit amusing, considering that its rival Razer has repeatedly shown an interest in building peripherals for all three of those ideas, sometimes killing two birds with one stone, but I admit it’s not a particularly rich vein for Corsair to mine should its other businesses go obsolete.
Here’s the company’s whole quote on cloud gaming, in case you’re curious:
Cloud computing may seriously harm our business.
Cloud computing refers to a computing environment in which software is run on third-party servers and accessed by end-users over the internet. In a cloud computing environment a user’s computer may be a so-called “dumb terminal” with minimal processing power and limited need for high-performance components. Through cloud computing, gamers will be able to access and play graphically sophisticated games that they may not be able to otherwise play on a PC that is not fully equipped with the necessary, and often expensive, hardware. If cloud computing is widely accepted, the demand for high-performance computer gaming hardware products such as the PC high-performance memory, prebuilt and custom gaming PCs and laptops, and other PC gaming components we sell, could diminish significantly. As a result, if cloud computing gaming were to become widely adopted, such adoption could seriously harm our business.
Intriguingly, Corsair’s S-1 filing also reveals just how much it valued Scuf Gaming at the time of purchase, and some insight into why. Corsair says it paid $136.3 million for the “pro” controller brand, despite Scuf having lost $18.5 million in 2019 on just $68M in revenue. But it’s not just the business that Scuf represents: Corsair’s transaction balance sheet shows that it valued its patents higher than its brand name or technology. Microsoft licensed those patents to create the Xbox Elite Controller. Sony PlayStation has a relationship with Scuf, too.