Charles Fan Helps Businesses Store Data Better

Using software to improve storage options

This startup is on a mission to help businesses use RAM more efficiently. 

Meet Charles Fan, co-founder and CEO of MemVerge. His startup is leveraging RAM and cloud tech to create storage software.

MemVerge founder and CEO Charles Fan standing in front of a city at night


Founded in 2017, MemVerge's software transparently virtualizes different types of RAM, such as persistent memory, into a pool of software-defined RAM with the same performance as DRAM but with many times the capacity.

"I had been working on storage for the last 20 odd years and always knew that the holy grail of storage is no storage. We could one day store everything in [RAM]. That was previously not possible, just because the underlying hardware was not available," Fan told Lifewire. "I always knew that memory-based storage would be a disruptive and game-changing technology if and when it does come out."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Charles Fan
  • Age: 50
  • From: Shanghai, China
  • Random delight: "I was an avid table tennis player in college but haven't played much in the last ten years. During [lockdown], I bought a ping pong table to put in the family room and started playing against a ping pong robot again."
  • Key quote or motto: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."—John Lennon

Maximizing Opportunities

Fan left Shanghai when he was 17 and landed in Indiana. Since then, he has lived in New York City, Southern California, and the Bay Area. Fan said he was the only Chinese kid at his high school, and he spoke very little English when he first arrived. With no language skills or money, Fan struggled to find part-time work. He applied to Target, McDonald's, and other places before landing a job as a paperboy at the Elkhart Truth. Fan began to tap into his entrepreneurial and tech skills to maximize the $2 a month he was earning. 

"I was learning about computers at the time, so I created my own CRM software database where I could see all my customers, how good they were, and how well they were paying every month," Fan said. 

"I always knew that memory-based storage would be a disruptive and game-changing technology... "

Fan started his first actual tech company in 1998 after graduation from Caltech. During his tenure at the college, Fan met his Ph.D. advisor, Shuki Bruck. Fan worked on various other projects and tech companies before landing on MemVerge. He launched the company alongside Bruck and another business partner, Yue Li.

"The three of us had been talking since 2015 about the possibility of starting another company, but we really hadn't found the idea that could make all of us jump," Fan said.

That changed in April 2017 when Intel deployed a new storage device with the semiconductor Fan was waiting on. He said this was the "aha moment" after MemVerge's founding team bought and tested that new hardware. 

"At that time, we thought this could be a big enough game-changer that could open up a whole new architecture and a whole bunch of new opportunities for startups," Fan said. "So, we decided to pull the trigger and start MemVerge."

Laying the Foundation

MemVerge now has a team of 60 employees and is looking to hire software developers, product managers, business development professionals, and sales reps. The company has raised $93.5 million in venture capital. 

Fan said his biggest challenges haven't been raising funding or expanding his team, but struggles he's carried with him from Shanghai. 

"In general, Silicon Valley has an innovative and inclusive culture that I really enjoy as a [Chinese] founder," he said. "My main challenge has less to do with my ethnic background, but more to do with my language and communication skills. I had to really work on effective ways of communicating to the team."

MemVerge's leadership CTO Yue Li, Chairman Shuki Bruck, VP of Finance Kathy Do, and CEO Charles Fan


Fan said his most rewarding moment was seeing MemVerge's product work at a customer's site for the first time. As for the next milestone, Fan wants MemVerge to be widely recognized as the software leader for the new Compute Express Link ecosystem. He believes this new open industry standard will be the foundation that allows RAM to be scaled independently in data centers for the first time. 

"By delivering new types of data-centric workloads faster, we can make a difference, whether you are talking about genomics, life sciences, or finding cures to diseases that are hurting people," Fan said. "In the movie industry, we can help creative people stay focused on doing creative things so that they can bring more joy to the world. Hopefully, we'll play a little part indirectly to help people live longer and laugh more."

Was this page helpful?