Nvidia: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

Nvidia: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

Nvidia: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

He wears signature leather jackets. He can bench press more than you. He makes cars that drive themselves. He’s cheated death — both corporate and personal — too many times to count, and he runs the 8th most valuable company in the world. Nope, he’s not Elon Musk, he’s Jensen Huang — the most badass CEO in semiconductor history. Today we tell the first chapter of his and Nvidia’s incredible story. You’ll want to buckle up for this one!

This episode has video! You can watch it on Spotify (right in the main podcast interface) or on YouTube.

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Thank you to our presenting sponsor for all of Season 10, Vanta! Vanta is the leader in automated security compliance – making SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, and more a breeze for startups and organizations of all sizes. You might say they’re like the “AWS of security and compliance”. ️ Everyone in the Acquired community can get 10% off using this link: https://bit.ly/acquiredvanta

Thank you as well to Vouch and to SoftBank Latin America. You can learn more about them at:


Shoot to Kill: https://www.forbes.com/global/2008/0107/070.html?sh=261e2068d077
Episode sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wt5jSpqjsRuYU00pq_ABWTM0iJ68hjMceF9XrreYPko/edit?usp=sharing

Carve Outs:

Starting Strength: https://startingstrength.com
Elden Ring: https://en.bandainamcoent.eu/elden-ring/elden-ring

‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.


  1. This is actually a pretty decent discussion which gets a lot of things right that are missed by almost everyone else. However, I am a little disappointed you never even touched on 3dfx at all, particularly when discussing the early to mid nineties. Memory was always an issue even with falling memory prices and 3dfx owned early Nvidia chips with their superior memory architecture. I am so glad you did touch on the single biggest secret weapon of Nvidia, their ability to get chips out on first try.

  2. Attempt at timestamps and TLDW:
    0:51 intro

    1:30 presentation

    from 1 among 90 competitors to 8th valuation in the world.

    Jensen Huang (CEO) is high personality.

    4:22 sponsor 1

    7:08 podcast community/media

    8:07 Jensen's origins

    Self-taught English ; wrestling ; electrical engineering ; joins AMD.

    16:56 ASICS at LSI Logic

    20:32 3D adventure post-DOOM

    26:26 reference, funding, foundation

    Botched the pitch, still got $2M round from Sutter Hill & Wilf Corrigan (LSI Logic CEO, Fairchild ex-CEO).

    Next Version → .nv → invidia (envy in latin) → NVidia → green (of envy).

    31:54 competition, evangelization

    35:05 SEGA arcade & Saturn, design decisions


    36:48 Microsoft D3D & Sega Dreamcast

    Drastic design change: Triangles, cheap memory…

    43:19 commodity

    9 month left, layoff 70%, sub-par foundries, emulation prototyping.

    49:30 Riva 128

    Powerful but bugged, consumer-chosen: (53:29) Far Cry sold 1M in 4 months.

    55:07 [1997] console/PC bifurcation.

    ×2power every 6 months.

    57:08 parallel but static

    1:00:56 Huge, TSMC direct call

    1:03:48 Geometry Force → GeForce.

    1st "GPU" name, to snub (1:05:21) Intel integrating components.

    1:08:40 Xbox / GeForce 3

    Introducing programmable shaders and lighting.

    1:12:41 Intel competition, future

    1:17:24 sponsor 2

    1:22:11 going supernova

    $ 158M → 375M → 735M → 1.4B revenue

    1:24:13 plateau, [2005] AMD-ATI competition

    AMD tried to buy Nvidia, but Jensen wanted to remain CEO.

    1:25:13 GPU supercomputing

    1:29:56 [2006]

    66% gross margin ; powered only Xbox, PS3 & Switch (low margins) ; intel competition again.

    1:34:51 scientific computing

    1:38:24 simulation, dev tools

    1:41:40 wrong backing?, consolidation

    1:47:07 sponsor 3

    1:49:39 Keyhole investment

    1:53:20 alternate history?

    1:56:17 closing, leading to next episode

    1:58:50 card-out (Elden Ring)

    A bit messy, I take edit suggestions.

  3. I don't know why I was recommended this video. By today's standards barely any views and subscribers, BUT..
    the 2 of you have something going for you and one or both of you, what I strongly believe, will make a lot more of this than just random YT recommendations.

  4. Ben, check out Barbell Medicine. A few [incredibly strong] doctors who used to work closely with Mark R. from SS create a lot of great content regarding strength training and health.

  5. You two are kings. Bravo!! Please just keep adding great companies to your library!

  6. I love how long these are 😂 you guys said 2 hours. For part 1 😳 shout out from Cape Town South Africa btw!

  7. Thinking about process power… does anyone know the fastest example of a company being hollowed out (taking their great staff) by a competitor due to being wrong strategically?

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