Nvidia stock surge could put Jensen Huang in the top 20 richest people


Nvidia shares skyrocketed following the company’s breakaway earnings report Wednesday evening. Shares were 15% higher in mid-afternoon trading Thursday, climbing roughly $104 per share since yesterday afternoon, to around $778. And, as of last September, Huang owned 86.7 million shares of the company, making him the largest shareholder.

At close of business Wednesday, Huang was worth $59.6 billion. Today’s spike should put him in the range of $68–$68.5 billion.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET, that increase in Huang’s net worth has rocketed him to the No. 21 position on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, a leap of two places, putting him ahead of Charles Koch (No. 23) and Zhong Shanshan (No. 22), a Chinese entrepreneur who made his fortune in bottled water.

In the coming days, he’s likely to overtake Julia Flesher Koch (No. 20, with $69.1 billion, as of Wednesday evening). And if Nvidia’s stock continues to surge, in the near future, he could top Walmart heirs Jim Walton (No. 17, with $78.3 billion), Rob Walton (No. 18, with $76.9 billion), and Alice Walton (No. 19, with $75.9 billion). He still has a long way to go before he gets in the top five, though. (Bill Gates currently occupies that No. 5 spot, with a net worth of $146 billion—and Elon Musk tops the list with $210 billion.)

Huang’s climb is an impressive escalation of wealth no matter how you look at it, but it’s even more stunning when you consider that a year ago, his personal worth was $13.5 billion, which put him at No. 128 on the list.

Nvidia posted record Q4 revenue of $22 billion, boasting a 265% increase from the same quarter the prior year and earnings that far exceeded analyst expectations. Goldman Sachs has called Nvidia the “most important stock on planet Earth.” And Huang’s words move markets.

Now the third-largest company in the U.S., Nvidia has been responsible for one-third of the Nasdaq 100’s gains this year. And it’s showing no sign of slowing. CFO Colette Kress, on Wednesday, said that although the company had improved supply of its AI GPUs, it was still well short of overall demand.

It’s a position that Huang and his cofounders, Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem, couldn’t have imagined in 1993 when they met (ironically) at a different Denny’s than the one Huang had worked at—this one in San Jose—to map out what their new company would be. (The restaurant was convenient, as Malachowsky and Priem worked at Sun Microsystems nearby, and Huang was at LSA Logic at the time. They would later use Priem’s non-air-conditioned townhouse to lock down their business plan.)

The early days were rough. Between 1999 and mid-2015, Nvidia’s stock didn’t top $6.25 per share. Last year, Huang told the Wall Street Journal that when he told his mother the trio was starting a company to make graphics chips for video games, she replied, “Why don’t you go get a job?” 

Thankfully for him, he didn’t listen.