In the early years of graphics chipmaker Nvidia, when it was struggling to survive, CEO and co-founder Jensen Huang liked to remind his staff how little money it had in the bank and how quickly the business could shut, a former staffer says. It was a way to keep employees focused.
Nowadays, Mr. Huang’s exhortations aren’t necessary. Nvidia is a major supplier of chips for high-end gaming devices and machine learning equipment for data centers, generating $6.9 billion in revenue last year. And it is pushing into technology for self-driving cars. That has all made Nvidia one of the hottest tech stocks of recent years: Its shares have soared 640% since 2015, lifting its market capitalization to $90 billion and making Mr. Huang worth $3.6 billion. Chip leader Intel, by contrast, has a market worth of $165 billion on 10 times the revenue.