But he just beat them all to win the Fortune's Businessperson of the Year title.
The Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) co-founder and CEO has sent his company on a meteoric winning streak this year. He's run the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker for 24 years since its inception and doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Here are some of the reasons why Taiwan-born Jensen Huang deserves new title.
He has a mind for the future.
Nvidia makes graphics processing units, or GPUs, that once were the power behind mostly video games. That could fly in the 1990s when Huang, age 54, founded the company, but now, Nvidia's GPUs are the basis for artificial intelligence, augmented reality, cellphones and so much more.
Huang was a visionary a full decade before his peers even understood the full power of GPU in computing. Because he was the first to recognize the need, he created what would become the best in the game. As the world has moved deeper into what was once science fiction, Nvidia has taken advantage of a power vacuum and stomped out most of its biggest competitors, including Intel Corp. (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) , to grab 70% of the market.
He's well positioned to predict 10 years in advance what could become the new norm - if he's done it once, he can do it again.
He created a valuable product.
"He understood the potential that artificial intelligence and deep learning has on helping solve unsolvable problems," Action Alerts PLUS Senior Portfolio Analyst Jeff Marks said. "And he was really first on this."
Everyone needs Nvidia's chips for one single reason - they're the best out there. "Solving the unsolvable problems is a real realization. I mean, this is happening across just about every industry we know, whether it's internet service providers to health care to manufacturing to transportation and logistics, you just name it," Huang said on a recent conference call.
A quick scan of Nvidia's products page showcases just how ubiquitous Huang's chips have become. They're in everything from 3D vision to handheld devices to cloud servers to vehicles. At the core of the extensive product lineup is Huang's main goal: create a product that can solve the unsolvable. He's succeeded in creating value where few recognized it could grow.
He's a thoughtful leader.
By many accounts, Huang is the CEO anyone would want to work for. He's considered by his employees as thoughtful, strong and authentic, according to analysis by everyone from the Harvard Business School to the Booth Company to Fortune.
Nvidia employs more than 11,000, but Fortune wrote in its profile of Huang that it's a "surprisingly tight-knit" community. Profile writer Andrew Nusca said the company's "secret sauce" is its culture - authentic, open communication and an accessible CEO. Huang doesn't have a shiny corner office, but rather roams Nvidia's headquarters and settles into work each day with a different group.
If that's not enough to convince you Huang is the people's CEO, consider this - when employees at a company retreat were discussing the dares they would take when Nvidia stock hit certain marks, workers said they'd shave their head or dye their hair, Nusca wrote. Huang joined right in, offering to get a tattoo. Today, that tattoo sits proudly on his left shoulder.
Nvidia stock increased 1.74% to $213.64 in mid-morning trading Thursday.
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