OC’s Wealthiest 2023: John Tu & David Sun


John Tu


THE MONEY: Largest local consumer electronics maker, and among OC’s largest private companies by sales. Maker of well-known flash memory products, solid-state drives, and other computer-related items. Company reported annual sales of over $16 billion (see story, page 9). In addition to its own business, Kingston makes memory products on behalf of PC manufacturers. Last year celebrated 35 years in business.

THE NUMBERS: Sold 80% of Kingston to Japan-based SoftBank Corp. for $1.5 billion in 1996 and generously shared proceeds with employees. The founders bought the company back in 1999 for $450 million.

HP SALE: In 2021, sold off its HyperX business unit to Palo Alto’s HP for $425 million. Still retained the ability to make memory products used by gamers, such as flash memory, dynamic random access memory and solid-state drive gaming products under the Kingston name. Kicked off a new line, dubbed “Fury,” for the new slate of offerings.

VARIED ESTIMATES: Bloomberg places a much higher $10.5 billion valuation on the duo, citing “the average enterprise value-to-sales multiple of four publicly traded peers: Transcend Information Inc., Western Digital Corp., Adata Technology and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.”

BIG BREAK: Sun, Tu co-founded memory products maker Camintonn in the 1980s and sold it to former Irvine computer maker AST Research Inc. They left AST to start Kingston after losing millions in Camintonn proceeds in the 1987 stock market crash. Now have built second fortune.

OTHER INTERESTS: Tu has provided more than $50 million in funding for upstart medical diagnostic company Fluxergy, an Irvine-based firm working to build a better, faster diagnostic test for COVID-19 and other diseases. Sun and his wife, Diana, through their Sun Family Foundation, last year announced a $50 million gift to Hoag Hospital Presbyterian to help with the expansion of its Irvine campus. The couple has lived in the city since the 1980s. Said Sun: “Our gift is no more important or meaningful than any other gift to Hoag, no matter the amount, if it comes from the heart and is made in the hope of helping others.”

THE BEAT: Company named after Kingston Trio, one of Tu’s favorite bands. He heads up a local band, JT and California Dreamin’ where he plays drums.

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