NVIDIA’s Jensen Huang Takes No.1 Spot In HBR’s Top 100 CEOs, AMD’s Lisa Su Takes 26th

Usman Pirzada

Harvard Business Review has named NVIDIA's CEO, Jensen Huang, the No. 1 best performing CEO in the world for 2019. The publication had previously ranked Jensen No. 2 last year and No. 3 the year before that. AMD's Lisa Su was also present on the list, albeit down in the 26th spot. The publication recognized Jensen's contribution in increase the share price of the company 14-fold from 2015 to 2018 in a span of just three years.

AMD's Lisa Su appears on the Top 100 best-performing CEO list as NVIDIA's Jensen takes No.1 spot

Unlike NVIDIA's Jensen Huang, who has been on the list for a while now (and in the top 3 positions I might add), AMD's Lisa Su appeared on the list for the first time, slotting in immediately into the 26th position. While Jensen managed to increase the value of an already profitable company 14-fold, Lisa was able to turn a drowning company around in record time. Lisa Su is also one of only 4 females on the Top 100 best-performing CEOs list (compared to 3 last year).

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Here is what HBR had to say about their choice of the best performing CEO in the world:

When Jensen Huang co-founded NVIDIA, in 1993, he focused on a single niche: building powerful computer chips to create graphics for fast-moving video games. As the company went public in 1999 and grew through the 2000s, video games remained its growth engine—but even back then, Huang, a Taiwanese immigrant who studied electrical engineering at Oregon State and Stanford, could see a different path forward. Data scientists were beginning to ask computers to perform much more sophisticated calculations more quickly, so NVIDIA began spending billions of dollars on R&D to create chips that would support artificial intelligence applications.

By the mid-2010s its AI-focused chips had come to dominate this nascent market, showing up inside autonomous vehicles, robots, drone aircraft, and dozens of other high-tech tools. One look at NVIDIA’s stock chart shows how this bet has paid off: From late 2015 to late 2018, the company’s stock grew 14-fold—a performance that puts Huang, 56, in the top spot on HBR’s list of best-performing CEOs in the world this year. Source: HBR

NVIDIA took the world by storm with the advent of the age of machine learning. Its GPUs that were previously only good for gaming suddenly had large real-world applications that would never stop anytime soon. A brand new market had opened up for the company and Jensen was quick to capitalize on that. Facing stiff competition from AMD's Radeon brand also meant that the company had an aggressive R&D department that had been working on projects that were years ahead in the roadmap. It would be interesting to see whether Jensen can maintain his no.1 position next year considering NVIDIA's lackluster performance these past few quarters and the streak of record-breaking quarters, now broken.

AMD's Lisa Su on the other hand appears to be poised to quickly climb these ranks as AMD's Zen 2 based EPYC processors roll out and catch an Intel whose 10nm is not ready yet, off-guard. Offering a competitively specced processor at a fraction of the cost, many experts agree that AMD is poised to take away market share from Intel throughout 2020 (until Intel can play catch-up with 7nm EUV). A decision to spin off its in-house foundry, Glo-Fo, appears to be working wonders as the company utilizes expertise from TSMC to maintain a lead on process nodes while utilizing GloFo for its IOD (on the EPYC processor) and fulfilling the Wafer Supply Agreement.

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