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The graphics monster and semiconductor giant

NVIDIA Corporation designs and manufactures graphics processing units (GPUs), as well as system on-a-chip units (SoCs), and related software products for the automotive, gaming, and data center markets. NVIDIA offers GPU products for high-end gaming, home theater, professional visualization, datacenter, and automotive applications. NVIDIA's data center business focuses on making computing more affordable through cloud computing and autonomous learning systems.

The company makes its product available directly to consumers; various OEMs; computer system makers; AIBs; channel distributors; and cloud service providers. It has operations in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and India.

Founded in 1993

Nvidia Corporation is an American electronics company founded in 1993 by Jen-Hsung Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem. The company is based in Santa Clara, California. Nvidia designs GPUs, APIs for Data Science and High-performance computing, and system-on-a-chip units (SoCs) for the mobile computing and automotive industries. Additionally, the company is a global leader in AI hardware and software from edge to cloud computing. They have also expanded their presence in gaming with handheld game consoles, including Shield Portable, Shield Tablet, and Shield Android TV, and their cloud gaming service GeForce Now.

The company designs and sells GPU’s for various end users, including gamers, crypto miners, professional applications such as architecture, engineering and construction, media and entertainment, and scientific research. They also supply chip systems for use in vehicles, robotics and other tools. For Mac/PC-users, Nvidia is probably most known for their GeForce series of products, which also was used in Microsoft's Xbox.

Competition is fierce, and some of the biggest counter players are Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc Most hardware in the graphic cards in today's home computers are delivered by NVIDIA or AMD. A big part of the market depends on integrated circuits on the processor, a segment dominated by Intel, closely followed by AMD.

The founder Jen-Hsun Huang

Jen-Hsun "Jensen" Huang is the originator of NVIDIA. He founded the company on his 30th birthday in 1993 and has served as president, CEO, and a member of the board. Huang has previously been working at AMD and LSI Logic. He holds a BSEE degree from Oregon State University and an MSEE degree from Stanford University.

Huang has had a very successful career, and was in 2019 ranked first on Harvard Business Review’s top 100 list of the world's best-performing CEOs over the lifetime of their tenure. Other awards include:

  • Named businessperson of the year in 2017 by Fortune.

  • One of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2021 by TIME.

  • The Robert N. Noyce Award; IEEE Founder’s Medal; and Dr, Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award—the Semiconductor Industry's highest honor.

NVIDIA has, alongside Huang, shaped gaming into the largest entertainment industry in the world. By inventing the GPU in 1999, they paved the way for modern computer graphics. Today, GPU deep learning has ignited modern AI, which opens up the new era of computing—with the GPU as the brain of computers, self-driving cars and robots can perceive and understand the world around them.

Another interesting fact about Jensen Huang, who still acts as President and CEO, personally owns north of 80 billion dollars worth of stock.

The (almost) Arm acquisition

On September 13, 2020, NVIDIA announced their plans to acquire the British semiconductor and software design company Arm Ltd. from SoftBank Group, for the price tag of 40 billion US dollars in stock and cash.

This acquisition would have been the largest semiconductor acquisition to date, but due to regulatory hurdles, Nvidia had to drop the offer. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority had significant competition concerns and the European Commission investigated the takeover. The verdict was that the acquisition would restrict other companies from accessing Arm’s products and give NVIDIA too much information about their competitors.

Further reading: Arm's Smart Phone Monopoly: Setting the Stage for Their IPO

Other notable Semiconductor acquisitions through the years:

  • Broadcom by Avago in 2015, price tag of 37 billion US dollars.

  • ARM by SoftBank in 2016, price tag of 32 billion US dollars.

  • Maxim by Analog Devices in 2020, price tag of 21 billion US dollars.

  • SanDisk by Western Digital in 2015, price tag of 19 billion US dollars.