I had the pleasure of sitting face to face with the Co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA- Mr. Jen Hsun Huang.
Jen-Hsun Huang, Co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA is a determined person who is always ready to put up a fight for his company. Watching this energetic, enthusiastic and enigmatic CEO at the American University of Dubai was an extremely satisfying experience. He spoke passionately about GPU computing to a hall filled with young minds on how innovation rather than anything else is what drives NVIDIA- a company that went from three employees to over five thousand six hundred in sixteen years of its existence. I had the pleasure of sitting with him face to face. The following are excerpts from that interview.
“I started my career as an Engineer designing Micro Processors- building computers and workstations and designing chips. I enjoy solving problems with the same issues as other Engineers (at NVIDIA) wrap their head around and sometimes I can add value that gives me great joy.
When I was thirty years old in 1993, we saw the PC evolving- Windows 3.1 was out and the Pentium Processor was around the corner. We saw this and asked ourselves what if we could take advantage of the resources and add another processor to it and use it for gaming. Our logic was that every programmable computing platform will likely become a gaming platform. In fact, the Apple I and Apple II were enormously successful as game platforms but then people kinda went away from it. With Windows being so pervasive, we could add 3D graphics to it and bring in a level of gaming that is so compelling, so exciting and so different that people would love it.”
“When we started NVIDIA, there were three of us- Chris, Curtis and myself. Chris and I had families and Curtis was single so we’d always go to his house and that would be the NVIDIA HQ. Chris and Curtis were upstairs in their own rooms with their own workstations working on NV1 while I had the downstairs dinging room table and used to sit there and figure out our strategy, our vision. It was pretty quiet- mostly just thinking and reading and reaching out to Venture Capitalists trying to figure out how to get the company off the ground.”
I found that a bit ironic, considering he came from an Engineering background and launched NVIDIA from a business point of view. I asked him how that transformation took place.
“The first thing I did was that I bought a bunch of books- on marketing, sales, management, operations. I read every press journal. I bought a book by Gordon Bell who is very smart and methodical and in his book he shared ideas on writing good business plans for future entrepreneurs. That’s when I started writing NVIDIA’s Business Plan and after three months of rephrasing and making it sound good, I realized that if I kept working on this, the market opportunity will pass us. I knew what we believed so I just wrote the first principals and list of actions that are basically strategies on what we believe in and the resources we have. To this day, NVIDIA’s business planing is exactly like that- Short and crisp.