Jensen Huang didn’t build Nvidia into a $2 trillion company without setting high standards for his staff—and while they say it makes him difficult to work for, Huang welcomes the label of “perfectionist”.

The Taiwan-born entrepreneur owns approximately 3.5% of the Santa Clara-based chipmaker, giving him a net worth of $77.3 billion per Bloomberg.

Huang’s rise to Silicon Valley stardom has earned him kudos from the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg who called Huang the “Taylor Swift of tech.”

But Huang has also earned a couple of other labels from his team, he was told during a recent interview with 60 Minutes. They include: “demanding,” “perfectionist” and “not easy to work for.”

Huang said those descriptors fit him “perfectly,” explaining: “It should be like that. If you want to do extraordinary things, it shouldn’t be easy.”

Nvidia has indeed achieved some extraordinary feats in a less-than-stable economic environment. The business’s share price is up 203% over the past year, and 1818% over the past five.

During its latest earnings call in February, the company revealed revenue of $22 billion for the quarter, up 22% quarter-to-quarter and a 265% increase compared to last year.

Busboy to billionaire

These levels of success are a surprise even to Huang himself. The 61-year-old said: “It’s the most extraordinary thing, that a normal dishwasher busboy could grow up to be this.”

The father of two began working in Denny’s at the age of 15—and the restaurant provided the setting for he and two friends to cook up the idea that went on to make him a billionaire.

According to a 2023 Nvidia blog post Huang, along with Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem (who both worked at Sun Microsystems), met at what was one of Denny’s “most popular” locations in Northern California to discuss “creating a chip that would enable realistic 3D graphics on personal computers.” Thus, the idea for Nvidia was born.

But in the interview this week, Huang made it clear it had taken much more than a good idea to build Nvidia into the brand it is today: “There’s no magic, it’s just 61 years of hard work every single day.

“I don’t think there’s anything more than that.”

Fans of Huang, whose behemoth business now forms part of the Magnificent 7 stock group, won’t be surprised by his grind mentality.

Earlier this year Huang told students at his alma mater, Stanford, that they should lower their expectations. “People with very high expectations have very low resilience—and unfortunately, resilience matters in success,” Huang explained. “One of my great advantages is that I have very low expectations.”

He added: “For all of you Stanford students, I wish upon you ample doses of pain and suffering. Greatness comes from character and character isn’t formed out of smart people—it’s formed out of people who suffered.” 

Hoping for a surprise

While some experts are fearing the unknown ramifications of AI, the president of Nvidia is hoping to be surprised.

In February the company published footage of its Eos supercomputer, a sister product to its AI platform of the same namesake. The model, powered by H100 systems, is a data-center-scale supercomputer “designed to power the next frontier in AI innovation.”

An Eos supercomputer can do “quadrillions of calculations a second” Huang said.

But despite how advanced the high-profile technology is, Huang isn’t worried about it performing in unexpected ways. “We’re hoping that it does things that surprise us,” he said. “That’s the whole point.”

Huang, who has joined an advisory board to the government on the the safety of AI, continued: “In some areas like drug discovery, designing materials that are better, lighter, we need artificial intelligence to help us explore the universe in places that we could have never done ourselves.”

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