Billionaire CEO Jensen Huang has come a long way since his days of working the graveyard shift at a Denny's restaurant. It started in 1993. On Huang's 30th birthday, the young entrepreneur made history when he co-founded Nvidia. At first, the company merely produced graphics cards for PCs. But after years of radical innovation and growth, it has become one of the most influential technology companies in the world.
Thanks to Huang's vision, in 1999 the company invented the GPU, thus sparking the growth of the PC gaming market, redefining modern computer graphics, and revolutionizing parallel computing. More recently, Nvidia is credited with fueling modern AI, with the GPU acting as the brain of laptops, robots, and self-driving cars that can perceive and understand the world, among many other uses. In fact, Nvidia’s fingerprints can be found all over. It played a part in the making of movies like Harry Potter and Avatar while also being the center of the most cutting-edge trends in technology, such as virtual reality. Today, with Huang still at the helm as CEO and president, Nvidia ranks as one of the largest U.S. companies, with a staggering market capitalization of around $500 billion. To add some perspective, Huang's company makes as much money in a day as his former employer, Denny's, makes in a year.
Notably, Huang has a long history of defying expectations and winning acclaim. Born in Taiwan, his family moved to Thailand before emigrating to the U.S. when he was 9 years old. However, his childhood was far from idyllic. At one point, he was sent to a school for “difficult” children, where his main chore was to clean the toilets in the dorm. But this didn't keep Huang from exceeding in the classroom. After earning his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1984, he received his Master of Science in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1992. Prior to founding Nvidia, Huang worked at LSI Logic and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
The remarkable success of his company has not gone unnoticed by his peers, and Huang has received numerous awards for his contributions as an entrepreneur and tech leader. In 2021, he was included in TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2019, Harvard Business Review ranked him No. 1 on its list of the world’s 100 best-performing CEOs over the lifetime of their tenure. Before that, he was named Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year in 2017.