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  • Mal McCallion

Semiconductors: The New Rock & Roll

Updated: Jun 11

It might have been Elvis that started it in the 1950's, or possibly The Beatles in the 1960's. But someone, somewhere decided that autographing bras ought to be a thing - and now, in 2024, here we are.

A 61-year old being mobbed for just that - at a business conference.

There are some similarities between him and those musical legends, of course. The guy with the pen wears a leather jacket ALL the time. He's sold millions, made billions and has adoring fans across the world. His gigs are sellouts and any new material is voraciously pored over by mainstream journalists as well as specialist writers.

But ... Jensen Huang makes semiconductors.

The chips that are buried deep in our compute and AI infrastructure, in datacentres in the Arizona desert so you'll rarely see them (their components are up to 0.000003 of a millimetre so you'd struggle to eyeball them anyway). This is invisible hardware, not even funky software that you can generate an emotional attachment to, from a much-loved old videogame like Mario Kart to a comfortingly workmanlike business app like Excel.

What should we know about Jensen, CoFounder of Nvidia?

  1. He's originally from Taiwan but has lived in the US since he was 9

  2. He's the 14th richest person on the planet with over $100Bn

  3. He cofounded Nvidia 31 years ago

  4. As of this morning, his business is now the second most-valuable in the world at $3.01Tn - it has just overtaken Apple ($2.98Tn), to stand behind only Microsoft ($3.16Tn)

  5. He likes leather jackets

If you prefer your businesspeople with a bit of personality, he certainly has that. But ... as a rockstar? Really?

It's either a terrible indictment of the current celebritisation of anything that moves across our eyeline, or testament to the dearth of talent in our organisations, that a guy who's certainly made some great business decisions over recent times (GPUs v CPUs - yeah, told you it was glamorous) is feted in quite this way.

Steel yourselves for more deifying of businesspeople in the mould of Yuang and Elon Musk. As Taylor Swift becomes a billionaire herself this year, there is going to become very little to tell these winners apart - apart from Taylor may be less inclined to reach for a pen to sign her Swifties' undies.

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