The Cousins From Taiwan Vying For Supremacy In The Global AI Race

Lisa Su and Jensen Huang share a great deal in common.

Not only are the CEOs of Nvidia (NVDA) and AMD (AMD) two of the most influential figures in the world’s AI chip market, but they are also related.

Su originally identified the link in 2020, and Taiwanese genealogist Jean Wu has more recently provided a detailed explanation of it.

Given that they now compete against one another in one of the industries that is most carefully monitored worldwide, the fact that the two did not grow up together may make things easier.

Their shared family history has roots in Taiwan, an island increasingly torn between China and the United States in their competing high-tech industries.

Huang is Su’s “biao jiu,” in Mandarin Chinese, claims Wu, a former financial journalist who now specializes in researching business families. She informed CNN that they are first cousins once removed, which is a term used to describe cousins who are separated by a generation in the West.

According to Wu, who verified their relationship by looking through public records, newspaper articles, and yearbooks, and speaking with a close relative of Huang’s, Su is, in fact, the granddaughter of Huang’s uncle.

In response to a question at a 2020 Consumer Technology Association (CTA) event, Su grinned and stated, “We are distant relatives.”

A representative at Nvidia additionally verified that Huang and Su were linked as distant cousins via Huang’s mother’s side of the family. Su did not reply to a request for comment, and Huang declined to comment on this story.


Comparable Routes

Those who follow the industry are now fascinated by this connection.

Su and Huang, who were born six years apart and are now considered rock stars in Taiwan, have discussed the subject on local news programs. Online, people have been discussing the coincidence on Reddit and other sites, and on social media, drawings of alleged family trees have gone viral.

Taiwan has a long history of manufacturing cutting-edge hardware, which has supported the country’s economy, according to Edith Yeung, general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital company Race Capital.

She attributed the trend to businesses like chipmaker TSMC (TSM) and electronics producers ASUS, Acer, and Foxconn, which inspire many young people to pursue careers in technology.

From Relatives To Rivals

These days, Santa Clara, California, is home to both executives, and it only takes five minutes to get to each of their workplaces.

These businesses supply hardware and software to the top IT companies globally, a market that McKinsey predicts could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. AMD listed Nvidia as a top rival in two of its four primary business segments—gaming and data centers—in its most recent annual report.

Gamers used to associate companies primarily with the sale of GPUs, or graphic processing units, which are used to show and enhance graphics in video games. Their GPUs are also being utilized to support generative AI, the technology that powers recently popular systems like ChatGPT, even though the two are still in competition in space.

However, if global hostility keeps escalating, both chipmakers can experience a change in fortune. In a regulatory filing made last week, Nvidia stated that US export restrictions to China pertaining to certain of its cutting-edge AI processors had taken effect “immediately,” many weeks ahead of schedule.