- Well, good evening, everyone.
I’m Ann Harrison.
I’m the Dean of Berkeley Haas. - Hi, Ann
- And I’d like to welcome you
to tonight’s Dean’s Speaker Series.
So I have the privilege of introducing you,
our speaker, very well known.
We’ve never had this venue as packed as it is tonight.
So Jensen founded Nvidia in 1993.
He served since its inception as president,
chief executive officer,
and a member of the board of directors.
Nvidia is said to be
the world’s last computer graphics company
to have been founded,
but with Jensen’s diligence and perseverance,
Nvidia survived and outstripped the competition.
I’m going to skip most of the accolades,
but I will point out that Jensen-
- [Jensen] No, that’s the best part.
- Okay. - No, I’m just kidding.
I’m just kidding.
- Okay, I won’t skip them.
Jensen has received- - I’m just kidding.
Oh, no, this is gonna be excruciating.
- No, no.
We’ll do the short version. - Don’t skip me.
Okay, thank you.
- Jensen has received numerous awards,
including the Semiconductor Industry
Association’s highest honor,
the Robert N. Noyce Award IEEE Founders Medal,
and the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award.
He’s been named the World’s best CEO
by Harvard Business Review and Brand Finance,
as well as Fortune’s Business Person of the Year,
and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
So, Jensen, thank you so much for braving that terrible ride
from San Francisco.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us.
We’re sold out.
The students are all very excited to hear you.
First, Jensen, I think you’ll say a few words
to our audience,
and then our MBA students, Ryan Tan and Renee Yao,
will moderate today’s discussion.
- Wow. (audience applauding)
What to say?
Well, I thought everything that was most important to say
she did so nicely say.
First of all, thanks for the introduction
and it’s great to be here.
I am now, I think, the longest running
tech CEO working today.
I’ve been working in tech for 30 years.
It’s incredibly, incredibly fun job, I can tell you that,
and that’s why I do it.
it is a incredibly…
Incredibly good job and it’s a privilege to do it.
You’re surrounded by amazing people.
In our case, we had the benefit of pioneering
a new way of doing computing.
This new way of doing computing has solved and is solving
some of the world’s greatest challenges.
We’re really pleased to be working in digital biology,
to climate sciences, to artificial intelligence,
to robotics, to video games.
If you wouldn’t mind,
how many of you have played video games
on Nvidia GeForce?
And so, I wanna thank you for that.
And how many of you are AI researchers or developers
that have used our GPUs for developing AI models?
That’s really terrific.
So it’s great to see that.
It is a rare privilege to be part of a company
that isn’t just a good business,
Nvidia’s good business for sure,
but it’s a good business
that also makes a great impact on the world.
And the work that you do
is really important to other people.
And so the combination of running a good business
and the skills of doing that,
I had to learn along the way.
A purpose of a company that could make such great impact
on the industry and markets around the world and society
is a great privilege.
And then also to have done something
that the world’s never done before
and do it for the first time.
Singularly, the company that invented
this field of computing,
it’s just incredible, incredible fun.
And so hopefully tonight we’ll get to share
some of the learnings that I’ve gained along the way.
I didn’t have the benefit, you did,
which is learning a business in a formal way.
I learned business in the way of doing it.
And all along the way, I discovered and realized
that there was a lot to learn.
Some of the things that that I’ve learned along the way,
I try to pass along to all the leaders of our company.
But the business part of our company,
the strategy part of our company,
is some of the hardest things that we do.
And the reason for that is it’s so ambiguous.
And it is not just about what you do,
it’s about what everybody else does in return.
It’s about what the competition does,
it’s about what the industry does,
what the customers do.
And so it’s an incredibly hard problem to simulate
and incredibly hard thing to learn how to do.
But I had the benefit of learning it
over the course of 30 years,
and so hopefully tonight we’ll get to talk
about some of those things, okay?
All right, glad to be here.
- Thank you so much, Jensen.
We’re all really excited for you to be here.
I’m Ryan, I’m a second year MBA student,
and I’m honored to co-moderate this discussion with you,
Let’s get started.
So our first question is on starting Nvidia.
So in the crowd,
we have many aspiring tech entrepreneurs
that are close in age when you first founded Nvidia.
Can you tell us a bit on how you came to start Nvidia?
What was the spark
that led you to start this amazing journey?
Do you have some advice
for some of the entrepreneurs in the crowd
who plan on starting their own journeys one day?
- Whatever you do, don’t start a graphics company.
The Nvidia being the last…
I’ve always said that Nvidia was the last
computer graphics company founded,
and that says something about strategy.
We were one of a hundred computer graphics companies,
and also the last one founded.
How is it possible that we’re the largest in the world today
and the only one remaining?
There’s a strategy study in there somewhere,
and that suggests that being first
is not necessarily the best.
You could argue that being the first 99 isn’t the best.
And sometimes being last is not necessarily even the worst.
But I do hope that we are the last,
if you get what I mean.
The battle between two computer architectural approaches
over the course of time using processors on the one hand,
which is general purpose,
writing software that does anything that runs on a computer,
versus an acceleration method,
has gone on for a very long time.
And about 30 years ago, Chris and Curtis,
the two other founders of Nvidia,
wanted to do something different
and they wanted me to join them.
I was really happy with my job
and we had two great kids and great dog
and we had a great family,
and so I was perfectly happy doing what we were doing.
But they insisted I join them to do something.
And so the three of us met on a regular basis at Denny’s,
and then we conceived of what Nvidia is today,
an accelerated computing company.
And that was really as simple
as the beginning as anything.
I don’t think that that startups need to form
out of extraordinary angst or incredible opportunity.
We were three good friends, and we been good friends today,
and there was an opportunity to work together
and we had to go figure out what to do.
And so I think that entrepreneurial approach
to solving problems, looking for opportunities,
persisted to this day.
It could be a random Tuesday
and we’re trying to think of something new to go do
or something we can do with something that we know,
or an opportunity where to arise
that we can go take advantage of,
and the company is reinventing itself all the time.
So this basic method of seeing problems
or seeing opportunities, or just happens to be Tuesday,
creating something out of nothing
is a skill that I think everybody, every company,
or every startup needs to have.
Now, we’ve applied and we apply
that basic method all the time.
We don’t have to reinvent ourselves during a tough day,
we don’t have to reinvent ourselves
because an opportunity arise,
we invent ourselves because we do.
And so just the energy of looking for something new
and a new way of doing something is always, always there.
It was a compounded question of a lot of complexity.
Sorry about that.
Advice for entrepreneurs.
The what? - Advice for entrepreneurs.
I’ve only done it…
You guys, I’ve only done it once.
There’s something about…
I don’t wanna set the expectation
that you’re gonna get any wisely, sagely advice.
I’ve only done this once and I’m still learning on the job,
and I kind of feel like that’s the wisdom.
I was no different than you guys except less prepared.
And everything I did, I did on the job.
I still remember it was about about February or March ‘93,
and it occurred to us we need the money,
and the place to go get it is venture capitalist,
and the way you do that, apparently,
is to write a business plan.
And so I bought a book.
I mean, the obvious thing to do is you buy a book.
And so I bought a book and it says,
“How to Write a Business Plan.”
Now, back then, how to write a business plan
is not a TikTok video.
I wish it was. (audience laughing)
And it wasn’t even a YouTube video,
but it was like 490 pages written by Gordon Bell.
And Gordon Bell is this fantastic guy.
He was the founder of DEC.
He was the chief architect, chief technical officer,
and I think he’s a fellow now in Microsoft,
and just an incredible, incredible guy.
And so anyways…
And he started Ardent Computer,
and then I met some amazing people at Ardent Computer,
Jon Rubinstein for one.
And so anyways,
he wrote a book on how to build a company,
how to start a company,
and it was like 490 pages or something like that.
And if I would’ve read the whole book,
there’s no way Nvidia would be in business today.
And so I glanced through it,
kind of skimmed through it,
and tried to write my business plan.
The truth be told, Nvidia never finished the business plan
because I never could finish it.
And I’m not really even too sure how to finish one today.
And so I do remember this,
our VC, Sequoia Capital and Sutter,
incredible venture capitalist,
they asked for a business plan,
and so we put a business plan together.
And I could tell you that our forecast was off by so much.
I think, I could imagine guessing..
No, there’s no way to guess even worse than that.
And so we were off by so much.
Nobody would’ve expected the market to be this large.
Nobody would’ve expected our company
to have taken so long to have gotten off the ground
and for the CEO to takes so long to figure it out.
And so all of that stuff was really, really hard to predict.
And so your question is probably, why are we here?
So, I hope I can figure that out tonight.
- Nvidia is a great company.
And for those who I haven’t met yet, my name is Renee.
I’ve been working at Nvidia-
[Jensen] Oh, I was gonna give him an advice.
Oh, yes. - Just get to it, yeah.
(Ryan laughing) - Just get to it.
Yes, great advice.
I’ve been working at Nvidia for coming up seven years,
and I lead 2,000 healthcare AI startups
that are in our inception program.
- Renee is amazing. - Thank you, Jensen.
Nvidia is a fantastic place to work.
So for those who may not know a lot about Nvidia,
Nvidia is actually not built
like many of the large organizations in the industry
with no regular P&L,
no business units like many others
you can see in Google or Microsoft and others,
and it’s an extremely flat organization.
Between me and Jensen,
there’s only three other executives in between.
So it’s very, very flat.
And there’s no org chart.
We are volunteers that reports to mission.
And many people think we’re a graphics company
or a gaming company,
but Nvidia is actually a full stack companies
for all industries you can think of.
Retail, finance, oil and gas, manufacturing.
And more interestingly,
we are a fabulous semiconductor company,
a cloudless cloud company,
a manufacturing company
that don’t have our own manufacturing.
- That sounds like a company I wanna join.
I just don’t- - Right?
How did you-
I just think the expectation tonight is way too high.
And that could very well be the wisdom you take away.
You know, there is…
There is a belief that CEOs are extraordinary amazing,
really knowledgeable, really skilled people,
and that’s just not true.
It is not true.
We’re not incompetent, uninformed,
really super lazy people either.
I don’t want you to think that either.
However, I hope the one thing
that I convey to you guys today is that, in fact,
you probably have everything you need
to be a great CEO already.
And if there’s anything that I inspire you to do tonight
is just to go do it,
but just don’t start a graphics company.
But what was your question?
How did I do it?
- It was more like how did you decide
on such a model for Nvidia?
- That question is so loaded and it’s hard to answer,
but let me tear it apart.
Okay, let me tear it apart.
There’s a part about what does the company do,
what does the company do,
and for what reason it does it?
That’s a really, really hard thing to figure out.
And you don’t have to figure it on one day
or you have the feelings for it,
but you don’t know how to put into words.
And the reason for that is because, probably 30 years ago,
the concept of cloud computing didn’t exist.
Maybe 30 years ago, nobody would’ve believed
artificial intelligence was possible
or accelerated computing was a thing.
And so until these words come into existence,
it’s okay that you don’t have the words to describe it,
but you need to know what does the company do
and for what reason it does it.
There’s the second part, which is,
in what environment does this company exist?
What kind of environment is it?
Is it a nurturing, stable environment?
Is it a hostile, volatile, dynamic environment?
Because by understanding what environment
your company’s going to be in,
i.e., the industry and the technology that governs it,
the fundamental dynamics of the industry,
by understanding some of these things,
and that’s the reason why
if you’re in the technology industry,
having technical sensibility is really important.
You can’t be ignorant of the fundamental dynamics
of the vehicle you’re trying to build,
the fleet you’re trying to build,
the ship you’re trying to build.
And so understanding the fundamental dynamics
of the industry is really important.
Now, based on those dynamics,
it causes you to think about
how to architect this machine, this machinery.
This machinery is essentially what Nvidia is.
Nvidia is a machine that builds a bunch of other machines
that other people would call products.
But it’s a machine.
And this machine has to be architected in a thoughtful way.
That is the fundamental job of the CEO.
And then the next part of it
is how do you operate this machine.
What are the rules that governs
the operations of this machine?
Because there will be many conflicting requirements
of this machine,
and this machine will be dealing with all of those conflicts
in a really distributed way
because you can’t possibly
be governing everything overnight, all by yourself,
and so you have to empower amazing people like Renee
to be able to do some of these things.
And so what are the values that you encode
in all of the people that you empowered?
What are the principles by which they operate?
What are the operating manual, if you will, of this machine?
And some people call that culture,
some people say those are procedures and processes
and best-known methods.
There are a lot of ways to describe some of these things.
But basically is, what is this thing that we’re doing,
what is it doing for what reason,
what is the architecture of the machine and why,
and then how do you operate it?
In a very large sense,
all CEOs have to work those things out.
Now, the thing that I optimized for
is our industry at some point,
for the vast majority of my computer industry experience,
it’s been largely governed by Moore’s law,
but we knew that Moore’s law was gonna run out of steam.
And at some point, the type of problems you wanna solve,
and in our case, the type of problems we wanna solve
are the ones that either Moore’s law can’t solve,
or in the time of Moore’s law, it’s barely possible.
And so we came up with this way of doing something
called accelerated computing.
Well, our world requires deep invention
and a lot of discovery that hasn’t been done before
because we’re the only company that’s done it.
And so you don’t know exactly what the recipe is,
you don’t know exactly what the framework’s gonna be,
you don’t know exactly how to go do that,
and we architected a company that optimizes
for a lot of innovation to happen,
optimizes for a lot of agility to happen.
So for example, if we discovered,
hey, this is a great new path,
this is gonna work,
we could swarm the company towards it,
we could shift it, pivot the company to it.
And to be able to do that,
you need a company that allows you to do it.
And these are some of the things that you’ll learn
as you operate large companies,
is that the CEO needs to create a system
that allows the CEO,
your will or the collective will of the organization,
to change the course of the company.
How do you do that?
How do you change the course of a company?
At Nvidia, I can change the course of the company,
of course, with the support
of all the leaders that work there
and all the amazing people that help me realize
that we need to change the course of the company,
but I can change the course of the company within an email
over a weekend.
No large organizations have to change.
You don’t have to change your reporting structure,
you don’t have to change your boss,
you don’t have to change your office.
In these days, you don’t have to change where you live
because you’re working at home.
And so we created an architecture for the company
that allows for maximum agility
in the event we discover something great.
We also invented a company
that allows us to create a new type of computing.
And if you wanna create a new type of computing…
and you have to create everything from scratch.
So everything from the architecture of the chips,
to the way the chips are designed,
to the way the systems are built
and the system software that runs on it,
and the algorithms that runs on it,
and even more than that,
the applications or the industries that use it,
all had to be invented from scratch.
And so here we are sitting in the middle of nowhere,
we were in Fremont, we had three people,
and we’re imagining this new world,
and everything from computer graphics,
to scientific computing would be solved.
And how would you go about creating a company
that has such an influence across the entire stack
and such influence across the entire industry?
And so that’s the part that we had to go invent.
And as a result, if you look at Nvidia’s architecture,
and I show Nvidia’s org chart all the time,
it just doesn’t look like an org chart,
it looks like a computer stack,
and the company is actually architected
like a computer stack.
And so why would you do such a thing?
Why would you build a machine, a company,
a machinery, a company,
that’s organization looks like a computer?
Well, that’s more sensible to me
than to create a company whose architecture
looks like the military.
If you think about it for a second,
business units, divisions, maximizing autonomy.
But more importantly, what managers really wanna do
is maximizing accountability
as if you really can control the outcome of your business,
they hold you accountable.
I think those are really quite antiquated ideas.
They might work in some large companies.
Well, we’re not a small company either.
They might work in other companies.
But I never felt that making somebody promise
that they’re gonna do something
will optimize the ability for them to do it.
And because you know that I don’t believe
anybody should fail alone,
just because somebody says,
oh, I’ll do a billion, whatever,
a billion whatever, and I promise to do it.
I’ll sign up for my compensation.
If I do better than that, I’m paid more than that,
I do less than that, I’ll get paid less than that,
and they sign up for that,
that doesn’t give me any comfort at all.
And because there’s so many other people that depends on it,
that should give nobody comfort.
And so I decided to build a company
that maximizes for collaboration,
reuse of the things that we build, leverage.
And as a result, we minimized…
We didn’t minimize, I guess,
we probably diminished the ability for somebody that say
hold somebody accountable through business units
and financial results and divisions and autonomy
and all of those things.
But it’s just a fundamentally different way
of thinking about the architecture.
And the way that I would advise,
and maybe close with an advice
is that we always think about the problem
we’re trying to solve from first principles.
And whether it’s the company we’re trying to build,
the product we’re trying to build,
or the organization we wanna try to build,
you have to go back to,
what is it that we are optimizing for,
and what do you want this machine to do,
and what do you want the behavior of this machinery to be,
this organization to be,
in the event of external circumstances,
And so by doing that,
we came up with the architecture we have today.
- Thank you, Jensen.
That’s very comprehensive.
- So you had mentioned some Moore’s law,
interesting problems we’re trying to solve.
And so I wanna touch upon Nvidia’s role
in solving the world’s greatest problems.
So Nvidia’s technologies
is involved in some pretty innovative projects
from healthcare, to sustainability, and more.
Some interesting projects include carbon capture AI,
decoding the COVID spike protein,
speeding DNA sequencing to a single day,
predicting extreme weather.
Can you tell us what are some of your favorite projects
that Nvidia is involved in,
and are there any other projects that we should be aware of
but may not have heard of yet?
[Renee] Large language.
Funny you should ask.
I wanted to share that with you all day.
I wrote a list.
You know, the…
I said earlier that it’s great to have a company
that does good business,
but it’s able to also make an impact.
We do good business so that we can make an impact.
That should be the purpose of all companies.
Business making a lot of money,
generating a lot of cash,
creating a lot of value,
gives you the opportunity to be able to do great things.
Great things that otherwise would probably not get done.
And so you mentioned a lot of good ones.
I mean, the work that we do
in digital biology and healthcare,
you can’t do without a company of our scale.
And you have to be a company of our scale
that’s willing to leverage
a lot of the technology that we built for some other purpose
to direct it and channel it at this really important cause.
Because without us doing something like that,
being clever about taking something that has a day job
and channeling it towards healthcare or climate science,
materials science is another really important areas,
without us doing something like that,
this area of science would not be big enough
to be able to support the level of investment
that we put into it,
the virtual investment that we put into it.
And so that’s the part of the cleverness of the company
to find ways to leverage what otherwise has a day job
playing computer games,
but realize that the architecture with new algorithms
is really fantastic at climate science.
And so for us to adapt this platform in this way
allows us to both drive a great business,
but also drive great impact.
And so that gives us a lot of pleasure.
And when I mentioned earlier a company with great business,
but also a great sense of purpose,
this is really at the heart of that.
- And talking about well-run business,
one of your favorite books is “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”
Hopefully, many of you guys have read that book.
And the lesson learned that most people got from that book
is that a well-run business can’t afford
to switch to a new approach
that ultimately will replace the current business model
until it’s too late.
And you mentioned actually on one of the VC panel
at GTC a couple years back
that Nvidia almost went out of business seven times.
Many people probably don’t know
that they turned the company around
over and over and over again.
Could you share with us that experience?
And perhaps looking forward,
what are some of the market indicators are you looking for
to continue to time ahead of the market transitions?
- Well, in the beginning,
(indistinct) just better our jobs.
And I just…
I don’t know how else to say it.
The first five years of our company,
really talented people working super, super hard.
But building a company is a new skill.
There’s no nowhere in any books that would properly describe
the circumstances that you’re gonna be in.
You’re gonna learn a lot about just building
with so few resources, number one.
Number two, the immense resources of the competition…
If your company is a hundred million large
and your competitor is 10 billion large,
it’s possible for them to give away the product
to keep you at zero.
And so the question is,
how do you break into an industry
that by the time that we showed up was relatively mature?
And it’s hard to tackle exactly one at the moment,
but I think a lot of it has to do
with simultaneously learning how to be a company,
learning how to build products,
a whole bunch of strangers coming together
for the first time,
dealing with competition that is really quite immense,
trying to build a new product
that the customer didn’t even realize they wanted,
and an industry that does know
how to value the product that you built.
The list of issues for our startup is just immense.
And I don’t know that there’s any code to share with you
aside from you’ve just gotta get to it.
And I think that that ignorance
was not realizing it was impossible to do.
You know, looking back at Nvidia,
I would say building Nvidia doesn’t make sense.
The fact that we would build
one of the world’s most important computing models,
approaches, in the world that we’re in
and built up ecosystems all over the world
from all of the industries that you’ve mentioned,
and being such a small company…
Still, we’re only 28,000 people large,
and you know how large the computer industry is,
and many of the companies were a fraction
of just anybody’s company,
it’s kind of hard to imagine.
And I think the thing that…
It never occurred to me that it wasn’t possible
when I was at your age.
If you asked me to do it today,
I would tell you flat out it’s not possible.
Building the next Nvidia is just not possible.
And for a lot of reasons, I’ll tell you it’s not possible.
But at the time,
I didn’t know that it wasn’t possible,
and that is your great gift.
In a lot of ways, I think you wanna stay in that naive state
for quite a long time.
I don’t mean naive and uninformed.
I was naive and constantly learning
and constantly reading.
Some of my favorite books,
one of them is “Positioning,” Al Ries I think it is.
Is it Jack Trout, Al Ries?
Really fantastic book.
[Renee] “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.”
Yeah, that’s it.
I read every single page of them.
Please read the one that have the sidebar footnote
that tells you years later what happened to those leaders
in the making the decisions.
Nvidia, learned a lot from that.
Like, less is more and-
- See, I read that when I was in my thirties
and it was really good book and it taught me a lot.
And the reason for that is because during a board meeting,
during board meeting,,
one of one of our amazing board members, Harvey Jones,
he’s asked me a simple question.
He says, “A really simple question.”
At the time, I had no idea how simple it was,
it’s just it was impossible for me to answer
because I didn’t understand it.
And I was 30 years old at the time, and Harvey said,
“Jensen, how would you position this?”
He wasn’t asking about features and benefits.
He was asking, how would you position this?
Where in the world would you…
Where in the mind, in the context of the ecosystem,
in the context of competition,
how would you position this?
It was a simple question.
The answer is supremely deep.
You’ll spend your whole career answering that question.
But the sooner you realize that that question exists,
the sooner you realize that that question exists,
the better off you’re gonna be.
And so my question is,
whatever idea you wanna start, partly is what does it do,
but partly how are you gonna position it?
And so if you start answering that question today,
that’d be great.
- So you mentioned some of the headwinds
that Nvidia has overcome,
and so I wanna pivot to over the short term outlook
of the tech industry.
So a lot of MBA students choose to come to Haas
because of its strong role in tech and tech recruiting.
However, in recent months,
the tech industry has been hit hard with massive layoffs
announced across almost all major tech companies.
Nvidia has not, and will not,
has not announced any. (audience laughing)
- I had to be careful what I said.
I had to be careful what I said.
- Boy, the electricity in the room changed.
- While the students in the crowd are afraid to admit,
but many MBA- - There was a nervous…
And the CEO had a nervous laugh.
And his eyes became shifty.
He started moving about in his chair.
So, many of the NBA students are afraid of-
He became less animated.
Generally more reserved.
Okay, go ahead.
I’m sorry, what was your question, man?
- Sorry about that.
So many MBA students here are afraid to admit,
but they are-
- We’re in our quiet period.
I’m just kidding. (audience laughing)
We’re in our quiet period.
- So many of the students here
are nervous about their employment prospects.
What are your thoughts? - Wow.
This question is gonna be hard to answer.
Go ahead, what is it?
We’re not hiring.
- What are your thoughts on the recent headwinds
in the tech industry,
and do you have any advice for current MBA students
who were once considering the tech industry
and maybe having second thoughts?
- No, the tech industry is great.
These questions are so compound, don’t you guys think?
The tech industry is fantastic.
I don’t know what could be a more important industry
in the future.
And the reason for that
is because influence is so many industries.
You could argue Nvidia is in the pure tech industry.
There are some tech companies
that are in the internet services industry.
Obviously, they’re not in healthcare
or they’re not in forestry
or they’re not in manufacturing or so on and so forth.
But we are in the pure tech industry.
And I could tell you
that the pure tech industry is incredible.
And the reason for that is because, obviously,
it’s at the core and foundation of every single industry,
and every industry is gonna be a tech industry in the future
to utilize the technology we create.
And I love the work that we do.
The environment is challenging.
It’s very tough.
The environment is very tough, obviously.
And there are friends that have been laid off,
there are colleagues that have been laid off,
there are spouses have been laid off,
and so it’s tough out there, but it will pass.
The size of the tech industry
is one tenth of what it’s going to be,
100th of what it’s going to be.
And so I think this is one
of the most vibrant industries in the world,
most exciting industries in the world and most impactful,
and so I would encourage all of you to consider it.
And with respect to the advice in the near term,
you’ve gotta be resilient to be great.
There’s one thing…
There are a lot of ways you could describe me,
but resilient has to be on top of that list.
I’ve seen a lot of tough things
and the company has been on its back multiple times
as Renee said.
And we have challenges from the environment,
from the economy, from competition,
from all kinds of places.
but you just have to keep a positive outlook
and just keep walking past it.
I’m always moving forward.
I’m not ever moving forward too fast,
but I’m always, always moving forward.
And people ask me, “Hey, how’s your day?”
And I usually say, “Good enough.”
A lot of people say, “Incredible.”
“It’s not incredible, but it’s good enough.”
“It’s good enough for me to wanna keep on going everyday
and I’m loving it plenty much.”
And I wish it was better some days,
some days it’s better than I thought it would be,
but it’s all good enough.
And I think this even keeled attitude,
resilience towards into the future
has really served Nvidia well.
And we have leaders in our company
that have been there for a very, very long time.
I’ve been there for 30 years
and there are are others that have been there for 30 years,
and my hope is that we work together
for as long as we shall live.
This attitude about building companies
instead of revolving doors,
and somebody makes a mistake
or misses a quarter, and poof, they’re out.
Or they miss a commitment, poof, they’re out.
I think that way of building a company
is really not very productive
and it’s not very long-term-minded.
And my advice to you guys is, it’s a bad year.
It’s not going to be the only bad year
that you’re ever gonna enjoy,
and I can’t even tell you
this is going to be the worst year,
but your attitude should be, it doesn’t matter.
- Thank you. - Your attitude should be,
it doesn’t matter. - Thank you. Jensen.
Would you be willing to take some questions
from our incredibly resilient students and community?
Yeah, yeah, sorry about that.
[Ann] So some of you…
If you’d like to ask a question,
can you please go to the mic in the back of the room
and identify yourself,
and remember to make it not a compound question,
but a simple one question would be great.
- Hi, Jensen.
My name’s Garv.
I’m an undergraduate here,
majoring in electrical engineering,
computer science and business.
And my father’s been working at Nvidia for five years.
He’s been a senior compiler verification engineer with CUDA,
so I thought that was really interesting.
And maybe a bit on the nose,
but understanding a bit about my dad’s job prospects.
I keep thinking about the future of CUDA.
I wonder if the trend we see in other industries
where we’re moving towards like much more specialized chips,
is the death of the general purpose GPU coming?
Will we see a move away from CUDA into things like FPGAs
to run all of those things like healthcare, ML, AI?
Where is the future of CUDA in this?
- There’s a tension
between general purposeness and acceleration.
General purposeness has the benefit,
it does everything obviously,
but it does everything poorly.
Acceleration has the benefit
of doing something incredibly well,
maybe a thousand times better,
but it can only do one thing.
And, you know, inside a computer,
you can’t just do one thing.
You don’t just run one thing.
And so the question is, how do you…
And if you only do one thing,
that one thing’s market size is only so big.
And if that one thing’s market size is only so big,
you can only invest so much in it.
So for example, if the market size
is a hundred million dollars for that one thing,
how much can you possibly invest
in that hundred million dollars?
Less than a hundred million dollars?
But if you have the ability to do more than one thing,
let’s say, it’s still acceleration,
but it’s a hundred things
and they share a lot of characteristics,
by aggregating a hundred things in multiple domains,
maybe it’s fluids, maybe it’s particles,
maybe it’s beams, maybe it’s raised,
whatever it is, whatever the domain is, okay?
If you could aggregate a lot of these,
then your investment ability is gonna be much greater.
Makes sense, right?
However, it’s a really slippery slope.
If you become completely general purpose,
then you’re not good at anything anymore.
And so we created a model,
a computing approach called accelerated computing
where these two chips come together.
CUDA is about, part of the work being done on a CPU,
part of the work being done on the GPU on CUDA.
And so the ability for us to spread that work
and use the right processor for the right job
and still be able to engage,
solve the needs of sufficiently large markets,
our ability to invest is gonna be greater,
the technology can advance greater, so on and so forth.
Does it makes sense?
So this is the fundamental tension that you described,
and this is at the essence of almost everything that we do.
- Sounds good.
Glad to hear my dad will still have a job.
[Jensen] He’s gonna have a great job.
Hi, Jensen. - Hi.
My name is Nevo, EW student here.
Thanks for being here.
I think it’s…
Speaking for everybody here,
it’s great to have a CEO of a company
that’s making a global impact talking to us.
So really appreciate you being here.
So I think my question is, so a manager at your level,
your scope cuts across finance, marketing, technology,
et cetera, et cetera.
At your level, how do you manage to keep a high level view
of where the company’s going, where the industry’s going,
and also getting to the details of like, technology,
what innovations you guys need,
people strategy, thinking through lay layoffs
or not laying people off, stuff like that.
How do you balance your time out
so that you have a high level view,
but also, like, get in the weeds of the work
your teams are doing? - All of our best leaders…
All of our best leaders are deep and wide.
You don’t have to be the deepest
and you don’t have to be the widest,
but you’re deep and wide.
And so the only way to do so is, one,
to have deep interest in the work of others.
You really wanna be able to make a difference.
You have to have the attitude.
And I have the attitude
that if I’m sitting with the finance team,
I can make a contribution in finance.
If I’m sitting with the legal team,
I can make a contribution in legal, our legal activities.
If I’m sitting with HR,
I can make a contribution with HR.
And if I’m sitting with the architects,
I can make a contribution with the architects.
And if I’m sitting with our research team,
I can make a contribution to our research team.
You’ve gotta believe that,
you have to strive for that.
You can’t always necessarily contribute as much as you like,
but you really have to strive for that.
As a CEO, you just have to strive for that.
Now, the best leaders in our company, all can do that.
They’re all quite broad in their understanding
of the issues at hand,
and that just takes experience.
Just, after you work for a long time,
if you stay with the company for a long time,
you’re gonna learn how things work.
I don’t believe in the 10-year tenure.
I believe that you’re just barely figuring it out
after 10 years,
hopefully they give you another 20, 30 years.
And so I think the dedication to the craft matters.
Being CEO, being a leader,
being an entrepreneur, it’s a craft.
It’s no different than cooking,
it’s no different than gardening.
It’s a craft,
and you have to decide to dedicate yourself to the craft.
And so I don’t think there’s any easy answer
aside from that,
but you have to have curiosity,
you have deep empathy for other people’s work,
you have to really…
I genuinely care for the success of my engineering team,
my business team, my marketing team,
my HR team, my finance team.
I genuinely care for their success
and I genuinely believe
that I can bring some perspective to help them today.
And so, that’s the way to do it.
[Nevo] Thank you.
I’m Grant, a part-time EW student working in sustainability.
And we’re just really inspired to hear your part
about not just benefiting shareholders,
but also society and having impact.
That’s huge for us at Berkeley.
I guess in that line, I also saw in your CSR report
a lot of things you discussed
about climate modeling, et cetera.
Really inspiring, and I guess also being in the field,
I noticed that with y’all being innovators,
kind of like AMD and other competitors,
they’ve also set a really high bar on this impact space
in terms of product energy efficiency
kind of at the heart of what you do every day.
I think AMD is like a 30 by 25 goal
for 30 times energy efficiency improvement in their chips
and has set an SBTi target for climate change,
(indistinct) Scope 3.
And I was wondering, maybe some of those things
are coming in your next CSR report,
but I guess could you maybe give a taste
of where you see this ESG field
and kind of your impact going,
probably to the heart of your business,
kind of like AMD and others.
Just wondering if you could speak to that for a bit.
- I can’t speak on their behalf.
They’re doing a lot of great things.
And it’s a great company
and they have excellent people
and we enjoy working with them.
Our approach is really very different.
Our approach goes…
Our approach is not just about building chips
that we hope somebody would use to solve climate science.
Our approach isn’t to build chips
that we hope somebody would buy from a computer company
that would then someday translates
to discovering some material.
Our approach is engaging the science
and doing basic research on the science itself.
We’re, I think, the only pure tech company
that have climate research scientists, roboticists,
people who are doing fundamental work
in digital biology, you name it.
And so we engage the science directly,
we do basic research,
and we find a way to make a contribution
in a way that nobody in the industry is currently doing.
And so that’s our approach.
I think it’s much more direct,
much more intentional, and much less passive.
The idea that we would just build chips
and somebody would use it
for discovering the next great breakthrough
that leads to a Nobel Prize
because we’re a computer company,
I would just have to say, no, duh.
If we absolutely don’t care about it at all
and we just make chips,
that will obviously happen
because we’re in the computer industry.
You could say that if you’re a DRAM company.
But we decided fairly early on
that we would engage the science very directly,
and we have some amazing research
that comes out of our company.
Thank you. - Thank you.
- Hi, (indistinct),
and I currently work under Renee as a high school intern.
[Jensen] Yay, Good job.
And I just wanted to thank you
for all your insightful information
that you shared with me today.
And although there’s economic downturn right now,
you still supported myself
and the nine other Cristo Rey students
that Nvidia sponsors from Cristo Rey High School.
So I just wanted to thank you
for all the opportunities you’ve given me,
and as well as getting leadership from Renee as well.
[Jensen] Don’t let his questions scare you.
But because I’m going to like college soon,
I just wanted to know what are some of the opportunities
that you experienced now
that you wished you would’ve witnessed beforehand,
that helped shaped you become the person you are today?
- I can only tell you the great piece of advice I got
when I was growing up.
Be a doctor.
And he’s absolutely right,
my father was absolutely right.
Be a chemical engineer
because chemistry is always important.
It wasn’t my path,
it wasn’t because they were wrong.
They’re perfectly good careers,
it just wasn’t my path.
And you just gotta figure out your path.
Where do I think the next amazing revolution’s gonna come?
And this is going to be flat out
one of the biggest ones ever.
And I told you I was gonna tell you,
and I’m gonna tell you.
And there’s no question that digital biology is gonna be it.
For the very first time in our history, in human history,
biology has the opportunity to be engineering, not science.
When something becomes engineering, not science,
it becomes less sporadic and exponentially improving.
It can compound on the benefits
of the previous years.
And every company’s contribution,
every research’s contributions,
compound on each other.
For the very first time, we know how to represent biology,
understand the language of biology,
we can represent the language of chemistry.
It’s never happened before.
And I’m very proud to say that Nvidia
is at the center of all of that
and we’ve made it possible
for some of this breakthrough to happen.
And now we’re gonna have incredible tools
that brings the world of biology,
which is very chaotic and random…
Or not random, but very chaotic,
and constantly changing
and very diverse and complex obviously,
and bring it into the world of computer science.
And that is going to be profound.
And so if you happen to love this intersection,
I think it’s going to be rich with opportunities.
It’s gonna be a giant industry.
Great, thank you so much.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I’m Nehal, I’m a first year undergrad here at Haass.
So it’s an exciting time right now for autonomous vehicles,
particularly for Nvidia’s business with Mercedes
and their L3 approval.
So I just wanted to ask you
how you’re thinking about prioritizing
the autonomous business over the next 10 years
relative to other segments.
- Our strategy is not to build a self-driving car only,
but our strategy is to enable the entire world
to make everything that moves
be fully autonomous or partly autonomous.
And so the way we approach this problem
is to try to understand, first of all,
what does autonomous computing computer look like?
And we built the world’s first robotics computer.
It’s called AGX Xavier,
and it was the first robotics computer ever made.
And it was very odd
and it was sensor rich in the type of processing it does.
Very common sense now,
but at the time, it looked very different
than a personal computer.
It looked very different than an iPhone for example.
So the computer chip was something that we said,
“Okay, it’s gonna be a new type of processing,
new type of algorithms,
it’s gonna take a new type of computer,”
and we built that.
The second thing that we did
was we built the entire software stack
to go figure out what are the algorithms that it would take
to sense what’s happening in the environment,
perceive its environment,
reason about where it is and where it wants to go,
and then take the appropriate actions and plans
to get there.
And so that robotic stack,
we started to build it so that we understand better.
It’s very different than Windows and Excel.
It’s a robotic stack that is real time,
and safety is involved,
and its ability to reason about where it is
and perceive where it is is really important.
And so that computing stack had to be invented,
so we started working on that.
And then of course, developing software for a robot
is very different than software for Excel and other things.
You can’t program it into existence.
You have to use this technique called machine learning.
So you have to build a computer
that constantly learns from examples
to write software by itself.
That’s called deep learning.
And so using a computer to automatically write software
with our coaching and our guidance
to write a piece of code
that would then ultimately run on this computer
requires a data center and a whole bunch of new tools,
and we went and built that.
And then, of course, all of this is great.
We have to go find partners that we can work with
to build their cars with them.
And then secondarily, we open up the platform
so that if you wanna buy our chips, terrific.
If you wanna buy our chips and algorithms, terrific.
If you wanna use the operating system, terrific.
Or you just wanna use
our Omniverse virtual world simulator
so that you can do synthetic data generation
and test your robot in this virtual world, fantastic.
However you want do it is fantastic.
And so we opened up the platform,
and we’ve got customers working with us
in all these different areas.
Our fundamental goal,
notice, the strategy I just described,
the work that we did,
the strategy I just described,
reflects the vision that we started with,
which is, in the beginning I said,
what is your vision,
what are we trying to do?
Well, let’s not just build a self-driving car.
We could do more than that for the world.
Let’s go build a computing platform end-to-end full stack
so that everybody in the world
who wants to build anything
that’s autonomous that moves can.
So if you’re Caterpillar, if you’re Komatsu,
if you’re a Little Nero, if you’re robotaxi,
if you’re commercial car, a shuttle, a bus,
we got stuff all over that.
And so that’s…
It makes everything…
It makes everything safer,
things that are autonomous never lose concentration.
Of course, the technology’s hard,
but our approach reflects our vision.
Thanks. - Awesome, thank you, Jansen.
[Jensen] Yeah, you’re welcome.
Hi, my name is Simeon.
I’m a first year EW MBA student.
You talked about the importance
of adaptability in architecture,
and like your ability to be able to change
the course of the company over the weekend in email.
I was wondering if you could speak at all
to any downsides to adaptability
and how it might compromise quality of a product?
- Yeah, there are two systems, really good.
There are two systems that every company needs to have.
In the beginning of a startup,
I would recommend your mostly adaptive.
Agility is your only instrument.
And the reason for that
is because there are too many unknowns.
To set up some kind of a rigid organization
with org charts and empires for people to protect
and organizations and people they have to go protect,
and they talk about my people,
my people this, my people that,
as if the people belong to them,
you wanna avoid that as long as you can.
But at some point, the machinery that you create
needs to be systematic and consistent as well.
And the reason for that
is because customers need to depend on you.
In our company’s case, our product is not the final product,
our product has a whole bunch of other products
built on top of it and with it.
And so they’ve got their plan
and they need to be able to depend on us
time in and time out.
And so that execution machine is really important.
So the company you wanna build at some point
evolves to essentially having a execution engine
and a innovation engine that’s adaptable,
and you have to find the way to create these two systems.
It’s no different than most computers have these days.
There’s parts of the computer that’s real time, isochronous,
and there’s parts of the computer
that’s interrupt driven, best effort, okay?
And so not everything in the computer
can isochronous, and always continuously running,
and you can’t have everything
being interrupt driven as well.
And so, but you need to have both.
[Simeon] Thank you.
Hi, Jansen, my name is Kai.
I’m a first year EW MBA student.
And you mentioned that you have two great kids
and a great dog and a great wife,
you’re comfortable with where you work.
So I’m wondering what make you
make the final decision to switch?
I feel it’s very hard,
especially when we are already feeling comfortable,
make good money,
and that you had to sacrifice,
give up everything else and make a switch.
And is it because you truly believe your friends,
envision a good team,
or you’re already envision a good technology,
or just because of random Tuesday.?
- I believed in them and I believed in myself
to be able to build something.
Now, the question is, at the time,
do we really…
Our vision about what we’re gonna build,
did it really manifest?
The answer is, not really.
But I believed in them,
and I believed in myself.
I also believed that even though
we had a family and our kids were young,
they were just one and two,
we had a lot of responsibility and we were young parents.
And I could say that that could cause us
to be quite risk averse,
but I was never concerned
about being able to do something else if it didn’t work out.
And so I felt like I wasn’t risking anything.
And maybe that’s too careless by some other standards,
but I really believed in it.
I believe that we weren’t putting our family in harm’s way.
And if things don’t work out,
there’ll be an even better job for me somewhere, someday.
And so on the one hand,
the opportunity to do something great
with people that I really respected and loved to this day,
and confidence that we’ll be able to do something great,
and not really feeling that we’re losing anything.
And we were young.
Lori and I were young,
so it wasn’t a decision that was so difficult, per se,
was probably even less than a dinner conversation
and maybe even less than that, you know?
And so I think all of you are young and bright,
and there’s so much opportunity out there.
I genuinely don’t believe that when you make a decision
to start a company or join a startup, frankly,
I don’t think it is a horribly difficult life decision.
The only thing that really matters is,
in my estimation is,
are you gonna love the people that you work with?
Are you gonna love the work that you’re gonna do?
Are you gonna love it so much
that all the pain and suffering that’s gonna come your way,
which I promise you will be lots,
the pain and suffering and the setbacks
and the disappointments, the list of bad days,
if you were to pile them all together
into one moment for me, like Renee was trying to do earlier,
the seven times you almost went out of business
and pile it onto one instance, you might blow up.
But don’t do that.
That’s why I didn’t answer it.
It’s too painful.
And so as you know,
great athletes and great achievers
all have this one characteristic.
They have the ability to forget the last moment.
That was the last point.
That was the last down.
That was the last, whatever.
That was the last game.
The ability to forget.
And, boy, I gotta tell you,
I’ve got incredible ability to forget.
And so you just gotta let the past be the past,
and that helps you with your resilience.
And so long as you love the work that you do,
you’ll be able to keep on carrying on.
And that’s really it.
That’s a hundred percent of the wisdom.
[Ann] Thank you so much.
Do you have time for one more question?
- [Jensen] Yeah, I’m happy.
I’m here all night.
I’m here all night. (audience laughing)
I made you guys wait.
That’s the punishment.
When you’re late in business,
you gotta earn your way back in.
- Hi, Jensen, this is Dave.
I’m a master’s in financial engineering student at Haas.
Thank you for the great session.
It’s been super interesting and helpful for us.
So, Nvidia is like a market leader for AI processing
and ChatGPT is going super viral
in the past three to six months.
There’s a lot of speculation in the market
to what it could potentially be
for the semiconductor industry in general,
but would love to be hearing what’s your take
on like Nvidia’s long-term sustainability
and what do you think about ChatGPT as a technology?
- Yeah, again,
there’s a lot of different questions in there,
but I’ll tear it apart.
First of all, ChatGPT is a very, very big deal.
Just think about it.
In just a few days, handful of days,
it has now reached tens of millions of people.
I think it’s more than five, it’s probably less than 30.
And the amazing thing is this,
everybody’s using it for different reasons
and everybody finds it delightful.
That’s its miracle.
When was the last time that we saw a piece of technology
that is so versatile that it can solve problems
and surprise people in so many ways so often?
It can write poem, of course,
it can write…
You guys shouldn’t use it yet,
not unless you get permission.
It could fill out a spreadsheet.
It could do a SQL query.
It could write a SQL query and do a SQL query.
It could write Python code as you know.
It could write Verilog you know?
And so if it can’t do it today,
of course it’ll be able to do it Sunday.
And so the fact that you have this tool
that can do all these different things
has really surprised a lot of people around the world.
Now, for a lot of people in the industry
that have been working on this,
we’ve been waiting for this moment.
This is the iPhone moment, if you will,
of artificial intelligence.
This is the time when all of the big ideas
about mobile computing and all that,
it all came together in a product
that everybody just kind of, I see it.
I see it.
I can now use this as an API,
and I connect to a spreadsheet,
I connect it to PowerPoint,
I connect it to a drawing program,
I connect it to a photo editing program,
and it’ll make everything better.
It’ll make everything better.
And so we now know that this is going to be a monumental
impact on technology.
And now the question is,
how quickly would the technology diffuse?
And I think that the last 60 days
kind of tells us something.
The rate of technology diffusion could be quite high.
For example, since ChatGPT came out,
probably some 500 startups have already happened.
And not only that, in about two weeks time,
they created applications
that are really delightful and useful
in a couple weeks time.
This is no different than when browsers were created
and bam, you’ve got a website
that’s really quite surprising,
or when the iPhone came out,
and all of a sudden, somebody wrote something,
took about a couple of weekends,
and bam, they have piece of software
they can download from the app store.
And before you know it, it’s something like Spotify.
It’s pretty amazing, right?
And so these kind of…
This is gonna happen now.
I think that’s a foregone conclusion.
The thing that’s really exciting to me is that,
that this basic technology
can now be applied to a whole bunch of other industries
that have never enjoyed the benefit of technology.
Think about this idea.
For the last 40 years,
for the entire 40 years that I’ve been in the industry,
we have done nothing but make computers
harder and harder for people to program,
and that’s why the technology divide has been so large.
And the technology divide is getting larger and larger,
except till one day.
All of a sudden, everybody can program a computer.
Literally, everyone can program a computer.
We have democratized computing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a farmer,
a doctor, a nurse, a frontline worker, assistant,
a travel agent, it doesn’t matter,
a small business, a restaurant owner, it doesn’t matter.
Everybody is now a programmer, isn’t that right?
You just have to prompt this thing
to write a program for you,
to do something for you, automate something for you.
We have just…
We have done what OpenAI has done
and what the team over there has done.
Genuinely, it’s one of the greatest things
that has ever been done for computing.
We have democratized computing in a very, very large way,
and so I’m very, very excited about that.
And so I’m excited about the prospects of it,
of course, as you can tell.
Now the question is, how is it gonna impact healthcare?
How’s it gonna impact transportation?
How’s it gonna impact retail, logistics?
How’s it gonna impact manufacturing?
The other hundred trillion dollar industry
that is today largely not served by technology.
Computing industry is tiny compared to the world’s industry.
It’s like a hundred trillion dollars.
And so we could do something now.
[Dave] Thank you.
[Merich] Hi, Jensen, thank you for talking to us tonight.
I’m Merich, French business student.
[Ann] This will be the last question, I promise.
[Merich] All right.
I’ll stand here afterwards because I…
So they can turn off the lights and I’ll just…
I’ll answer the rest of your questions.
I owe it to you.
- So, yeah, I wanted to know what was, in your opinion,
your biggest mistake and how did you overcome it
in your business life?
- I don’t wanna disappoint you,
but the number of mistakes that I’ve made is so many
that it’s hard for me to really say,
wow, you’re the champion.
And the reason for that is,
right now, as you’re asking the question,
if you don’t make that many mistakes,
then one kind of stands out.
Do you know what I’m saying?
If you make mistakes all the time,
you’re gonna have a hard time picking one out.
I’m kind of loving all of them.
I love all my children.
Because when it’s a success,
it’s somebody else’s success.
But if it’s a mistake, it’s yours, okay?
And so I’ve made strategy mistakes.
However, it led to something really great.
I’ve made execution mistakes.
However, I learned more deeply about the craft,
which then led me to become better at managing that.
Walked away from business I shouldn’t have,
I’ve taken business I shouldn’t have,
so I’m not exactly sure
what I learned from either one of those.
And so I think the list…
The only thing that I will tell you about that
is you have to learn how to estimate opportunity cost.
One of the things that most people don’t do very well
is estimating opportunity cost, only cost.
Because when you look at your P&L,
it doesn’t ever describe opportunity cost.
Is that right?
It only describes the things that you did do
and the cost that incurred as a result of that.
It turns out, most of life is about the things
that you could have done, but you didn’t have time to do.
And when you’re the CEO of the company,
the company’s resources, that’s what you manage,
and it’s really important not to squander that.
And Renee heard me said it a hundred times
that my fundamental job
is to create the conditions by which the company succeeds
and do their best work
and selecting projects that are worthy of our company,
and that’s really about what to choose
and what not to choose.
And what not to choose is really, really important
because we only have 28,000 people.
And if you kind of loaded your plate
with nothing but salad and fruit at the buffet line,
when you walk up to that ribeye and that fried chicken,
it’s gonna be tough, you know?
Okay, that was just CEO joke, CEO joke.
But everybody here is vegetarian.
Okay, all right.
Thank you very much. - Yup.
So I just wanna give a huge shout out to Renee and to Ryan,
(audience applauding) and especially the Jensen.
- [Jensen] Okay, the session’s over,
but I’ll keep answering your question.
Yeah, go ahead.