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As NVIDIA Reaches $2 Trillion Market Cap, How Rich Is The Company’s Longstanding Founder/CEO Jensen Huang?

We originally published this article on May 31, 2023, the day NVIDIA’s market cap crossed $1 trillion for the first time. Fast forward 272 days, and as I type this article, NVIDIA’s market cap sits at just a teeny tiny bit under $2 trillion. If the stock closes at its current share price, it should officially cross $2 trillion.

NVIDIA wasn’t the first company to hit $1 trillion or even $2 trillion. In 2018 Apple became the very first company to reach $1 trillion in market cap. Apple’s market cap would soon top $2 trillion. Then $3 trillion. Microsoft followed Apple into the trillion-dollar club in 2019. Then, $2 trillion a year later. On January 14, 2024, Microsoft actually surpassed Apple to become the world’s most valuable company. Its current market cap is $3.01 trillion.

Fun Fact: When Microsoft went public, Bill Gates owned 45% of the company. After decades of diversification-driven stock sales, today Bill owns around 1.4%. Had Bill been a little less aggressive with his stock sales and today still owned 35% of Microsoft, he would be the world’s first trillionaire.

Bill Gates was CEO of Microsoft for 25 years (1975 – 2000). Jeff Bezos was CEO of Amazon for 26 years (1995 – 2021). Elon Musk is not a founder of Tesla. He first became involved with the company in 2004, a year after it was founded. Elon didn’t become CEO until 2008. So his tenure so far is 16 years. Mark Zuckerberg has been CEO of Facebook for 20 years (2004 – present).

Fun Fact: Mark Zuckerberg’s first business card prominently featured the phrase “I’m CEO, Bitch.”

NVIDIA was the sixth company in history to break the $1 trillion mark and the third company to break the $2 trillion mark. What’s extra remarkable about NVIDIA, especially when compared to other enormous public companies, is that for its entire 30+ year history, NVIDIA has had a single CEO. NVIDIA was founded in 1993. It went public in 1999. From 1993 to the present, the company’s co-founder, Jensen Huang, has been CEO.

How Rich is Jensen Huang?

Jensen Huang directly owns 3.5% of NVIDIA’s equity. He also has 3 million vested options. At the company’s lowest point in the last five years, February 2019, Jensen was worth around $3.5 billion.

At the $1 trillion market cap level, Jensen Huang was worth $35 billion. At the $2 trillion mark, his net worth is now $70 billion. That makes Jensen the 20th richest person in the world today.

A $70 billion net worth is a far cry from the $2.65 per hour Jensen earned as an immigrant teenager working at a Denny’s restaurant.

Jensen was born in Taiwan in 1963. He spent his early years in Thailand, where his father worked for the Air Conditioner company Carrier. After the father spent a work trip visiting Carrier’s factories in the United States, he vowed to send his two sons to school there. When Jensen was just nine years old, he and his brother traveled unaccompanied to America to live with an aunt and uncle. In a bizarre twist of events, the aunt and uncle enrolled the two brothers in a Baptist boarding school in Kentucky, erroneously thinking it was a non-religious, prestigious prep school. The brothers ended up thriving at the Oneida Baptist Institute, and Jensen has since donated millions of dollars to the school. Jensen went on to study electrical engineering at Oregon State, graduating in 1984, the year Apple released its first Macintosh computer. After stints at tech companies LSI and AMD, in 1993, Jensen co-founded NVIDIA. In a fitting twist of fate, he pitched his future co-founders on what became NVIDIA during a lunch brainstorm at a local Dennys. And 31 years later, he’s one of the 20 richest people in the world.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Rise and Fall and Rise of NVIDIA

NVIDIA makes semiconductors. That’s a fancy way of saying computer chips. Those chips power phones, computers, data centers, gaming consoles, televisions, and even cars. More importantly, in recent times, NVIDIA’s chips power crypto and Artificial Intelligence computers/servers.

Back in 2016, when most of the world had not yet heard of Bitcoin and crypto, NVIDIA’s market cap was $16 billion. By the end of 2018, a year when crypto broke through to the mainstream, NVIDIA’s market cap was $170 billion.

That’s roughly where its market cap stood in late 2019 before the world had heard of COVID, stimulus checks, web3, or NFTs.

By the end of 2021, thanks to the hype-fueled boom of NFTs and cryptocurrency, NVIDIA’s market cap ended the year at $750 billion.

Over the next ten months, from January 2022 to October 2022, as the crypto bubble burst and the world entered a high inflation/recession period, NVIDIA’s market cap dropped all the way back down to $300 billion. That’s a 60% decline.

And now, thanks to a wave of new hype from Artificial Intelligence, NVIDIA is a $2 trillion-dollar-company.

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