Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Turned Down a Merger Offer in the Company’s Early Days, According to Insiders. Here’s Why.

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Back when Nvidia was a smaller industry player, AMD almost bought it. According to insiders, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang had a deal-breaking condition that prevented the merger: He wanted to be CEO of the joint company.

Former AMD engineer Hemant Mohapatra shared a behind-the-scenes look into why an AMD-Nvidia alliance never came to fruition in a series of Friday posts on X. Mohapatra worked at AMD for over six years before eventually moving into venture capital.

He wrote that AMD “should have acquired Nvidia — and we tried,” but Huang “clearly thought very long term and was building his ‘Apple strategy'” of locking in users.

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“He refused to sell unless he was made the joint company’s CEO to align with this strategy,” Mohapatra wrote. “AMD blinked and our future trajectories splintered forever.”

But clearly, someone at AMD saw the future. We just saw it partially. We should have acquired Nvidia – and we tried. Nvidia – for those who remember – was mostly a “niche” CPU for hardcore gamers and they went hard on CUDA and AMD was a big believer in OpenGL. Developers…

— Hemant Mohapatra (@MohapatraHemant) July 5, 2024

Current AMD engineer Phil Park confirmed Mohapatra’s account on Friday, writing, “I’ve never met Hemant, and though there are a few things where I have a different opinion, the anecdote about Jensen wanting to be CEO is true.”

Related: Is It Too Late To Buy Nvidia? Ex-Morgan Stanley VP Weighs In

A 2012 Forbes article further confirms the possible Nvidia-AMD merger and gives it more of a concrete time frame.

According to the piece, Nvidia almost became part of AMD in 2006 as AMD tried to get ahead of Intel by adding a graphics arm. After Huang wanted to be CEO of the combined tech company, AMD acquired Nvidia’s rival ATI for $5.4 billion in July 2006 instead.

At the time of writing, Nvidia’s $3.1 trillion market cap is over ten times more than AMD’s $288 billion.

Related: Elon Musk Praises Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s Leadership Style

Nvidia “stuck to their guns, and the market came to them eventually when AI took off,” Mohapatra wrote. “Most give up, Jensen just kept going harder.”

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang in June 2024. SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

Nvidia has been making graphics chips for more than 30 years and started working towards AI and deep learning in 2006.

The multi-year, multi-billion dollar effort gave Nvidia a head start in the AI race: Nvidia’s chips are now the brains of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Nvidia also has over 80% of the AI chip market, though competition is intensifying as some of its biggest tech clients focus on making chips in-house.

Related: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Reveals His Competition Strategy

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