Becoming your own boss ultimately starts with making the big leap.
This can be exciting and thrilling, yet also very stressful.
The final one of those three feelings is what summed up running Nvidia has felt for Co-Founder and CEO Jensen Huang, who despite the tech company’s success, has said that he would not start the company again if he had the chance to do so.
During an interview with the Acquired podcast last week, Mr Huang, now 60, was asked what type of company he would think about starting if he could go back in time to when he was 30 years old.
However, the American entrepreneur immediately replied: “I wouldn’t do it”.
Explaining his reasoning behind the answer, he said that it was “quite simple” for him, saying that starting a company is too stressful and hectic.
“Building Nvidia turned out to be a million times harder than I expected it to be, than any of us expected it to be,” Mr Huang said.
“If we realised the pain and suffering [involved] and just how vulnerable you’re going to feel, the challenges that you’re going to endure, the embarrassment and the shame, and the list of all the things that go wrong, I don’t think anybody would start a company,” he added.
He concluded that “nobody in their right mind would do it”.
Nvidia, a multinational software and hardware company that designs graphics processing units (GPUs) and application programming interface (APIs) as well as system on a chip units (SoCs). Its computer processors are used in data centres, autonomous vehicles, and gaming.
While its stock has grown significantly over the past few years, primarily due to the surge in demand for artificial intelligence (AI), becoming one of the world’s most valuable companies this year, its journey was not always so smooth sailing.
The company was founded in 1993, and it was close to going bankrupt in 1995 after its first chip, the NV1, failed to attract enough demand. It was forced to lay off half its employees, before it was then saved by the successful RIVA 128, its third chip which was released in 1997.
In 2022 the company faced with underwhelming earnings guidance, prompting it to slow down hiring and to also clamp down on expenses. This was coupled by the unsuccessful takeover of chip designer Arm, with the $40 billion (€37.7 billion) takeover falling through after increasing pressure from regulators.
To Mr Huang, his biggest fear, as was the case when Nvidia was still in its early stages, is failing to facilitate success among workers. “I’m afraid of the same things today that I was in the very beginning of this company, which is letting employees down,” he added.
Mr Huang said that the “superpower of an entrepreneur” is characterised by not knowing how difficult leading a company can be.
“They don’t know how hard it is. They only ask themselves, how hard can it be? To this day, I trick my brain into thinking, ‘How hard can it be?’ Because you have to,” he added.
“You have to get yourself to believe it’s not that hard, because it’s way harder than you think,” he stressed.
If he had to take all of the knowledge he has gained over the years and go back, he would not do so. “I think it’s too much. It is just too much,” he concluded.
Nvidia Co-Founder and CEO Jensen Huang / Nvidia
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