Nov 16, 2017

Fortune businessperson of the year: Nvidia's Huang

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang delivers a speech about AI and gaming during the Computex Taipei exhibition. Photo: Chiang Ying-ying / AP

FORTUNE Businessperson of the Year is Jensen Huang, co-founder and CEO of chip maker Nvidia, based in Santa Clara:

Huang on why he started Nvidia:

"We ... observed that video games were simultaneously one of the most computationally challenging problems and would have incredibly high sales volume. ... Video games was our killer app — a flywheel to reach large markets funding huge R&D to solve massive computational problems."

  • Huang, born in Taiwan, is "the rare cofounder still running his company 24 years later. He ... foresaw a blossoming market for a new kind of computing early enough to reposition his company years in advance."
  • On the next billion-dollar opportunity: "The ability for artificial intelligence to write artificial intelligence by itself. ... We're seeing early indications of it now. Generative adversarial networks, or GAN. I think over the next several years we're going to see a lot of neural networks that develop neural networks.
  • "For the next couple of decades, the greatest contribution of A.I. is writing software that humans simply can't write. Solving the unsolvable problems."
  • On the company's name: "We couldn't think of one, so we named all of our files NV, as in 'next version.'" A need to incorporate the company prompted the cofounders to review all words with those two letters, leading them to "invidia," Latin for "envy."

FORTUNE's runner-ups: #2 Jamie Dimon (CEO, JPMorgan Chase) ... #3 Marc Benioff (CEO, Salesforce) ... #4 Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon) ... #5 Mary Dillon (CEO, Ulta Beauty) ... #6 Ajaypal "Ajay" Banga (CEO, Mastercard) ... #7 Huateng "Pony" Ma (CEO, Tencent Holdings) ... #8 Dan Schulman (CEO, PayPal) ... #9 Marillyn Hewson (CEO, Lockheed Martin) ... #10 Francisco D'Souza (CEO, Cognizant).

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Coronavirus fuels historic drop in gasoline demand

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The amount of gasoline American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows.

Driving the news: When most of us are staying home and not driving, this is one of the most predictable—but nonetheless still staggering—upshots of the unfolding coronavirus crisis.

Mark Cuban opens door to 2020 run

Photo: Axios Events

Businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revived talk of an improbable 2020 presidential bid during an Axios virtual event on Friday.

  • "Everything's a reset right now," Cuban told Axios CEO Jim VandeHei from Dallas. "If this would would've been a month ago, I would have said absolutely not. But obviously things are crazy, things are changing. So I'll keep an open mind. But I seriously doubt it."