Nvidia Corporation was founded on 5 April 1993 with the goal of changing the computer industry. Founders Jensen Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem believed that the most suitable direction for the next wave of computing was to solve the limitations of general-purpose computing through the development of dedicated processors and other hardware components aimed at accelerating specific computing tasks and applications.
The founders that graphics-based computing would be an interesting area to explore. They observed that video gaming was one of the most computationally challenging problems of that time but recognized that the market for video games had huge potential. Nevertheless, based on their observations and propositions, the three founded Nvidia on the back of graphics processing. They were able to secure USD 20 million of venture capital funding.
It took the company several years to introduce its first product. The graphics accelerator RIVA TNT was its first official product released in 1998. It also released the first product within the GeForce line in late 1999. This was the GeForce 256 and it was marketed as the first graphics processing unit in the world. Nvidia has since been credited for inventing and popularizing the term “graphics processing unit” and its use in modern computing.
Elements in the Business Strategy of Nvidia: Understanding the Success Behind One of the Most Valuable Tech Companies in the World
1. Targeted Marketing: Banking on Opportunities in Specific Segments of the Greater Market
Nvidia did not invent the first graphics processor or graphics processing unit. But it popularized graphics-accelerated computing. A big part of its success lies in banking on developing and marketing graphics processors for dedicated computing requirements. It is responsible for helping popularize video gaming on personal computers. The processors it produced also aided the success of Windows as a prime operating system for video gaming.
The company has a market share of over 70 percent in the specific GPU segment. Its GPUs are popular among PC manufacturers and across the PC gaming community. However, apart from the specific video game market, these hardware components have been used in other computing requirements. Nvidia developed the Compute Unified Device Architecture or CUDA in 2007 which made it possible to use GPUs in general-purpose and dedicated computing.
Hence, through its leadership in developing graphics processors and its CUDA platform, Nvidia has also catered to manufacturers of high-performance computers and supercomputers, data science workstations, servers and data centers, gaming consoles, and self-driving vehicles. Its GPUs are also used in specific processes or requirements relevant to blockchain technology such as the mining of cryptocurrencies based on the proof-of-work algorithm.
It is also important to highlight the fact that part of the business strategy of Nvidia is to explore opportunities in artificial intelligence. The company released the Tesla GPU in 2010. This was the first graphics processor designed for machine learning and deep learning or developing and running specific algorithms and models for tasks such as natural language processing and computer vision. It has since become a leader in the AI market.
2. Platform Strategy: Expanding the Business Further and Diversifying the Entire Product Portfolio
Take note that Nvidia is not only a fabless semiconductor company or a GPU designer. It has a diversified business that also includes developing computer programs including applications programming interface and drivers, designing other hardware components such as central processing units and data processing units, developing collaborative software, and designing consumer electronics devices such as smartphones and tablets.
A critical element of the business strategy of Nvidia is its specific platform strategy. This involves combining hardware and systems, software, algorithms and libraries, and services to create unique value. This is somewhat similar to the closed product ecosystems of companies like Apple and Tesla. The purpose of this strategy is to develop technologies and products that can complement one another to maximize their capabilities and applications.
The entire GPU business of the company is based on a platform strategy. It provides the hardware, software, and services needed to run a multi-sided platform composed of users or organizations that require graphics processors to accelerate their computer-intensive workloads or manufacture products that require graphics processing and developers or software companies that develop code or software applications that run on the platform.
Nvidia also introduced its Nvidia AI Foundations in March 2023 as part of its specific AI strategy. It is a cloud-based platform of services that enables organizations to build, operate, and refine generative artificial intelligence models. The platform consists of cloud-based foundational models, data processing frameworks, vector databases and personalization, optimized inference engines, and application programming interfaces.
3. Research and Development: Building and Maintaining Competitive Advantage Through Innovation
Innovation is at the core of the business strategy of Nvidia and one of the main sources of its competitive advantage. The company invests more than 20 percent of its revenues in specific research and development activities and also takes advantage of its access to capital to build capabilities further. Its specific capabilities include hardware design, software development, architecture and algorithm development, and market research.
The company has designated departments and teams tasked to oversee specific research goals and product development objectives. The dedicated hardware teams are responsible for developing and deploying GPUs and relevant technologies such as instruction set architectures while the various software teams are assigned to develop a range of software programs for its GPUs. These include drivers, libraries, tools, and software applications.
It is also worth mentioning that Nvidia operates research offices in different parts of the world to tap the best and brightest scientists and engineers. These include offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The company invests in different research areas. These include the different fields of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality, computer graphics, health and medical sciences, and computer science, among others.
Remember that targeted marketing and platform strategy are essential to the business strategy of Nvidia. Research and development activities enable it to help in advancing existing markets and create or enter newer markets and segments through game-changing and disruptive innovations aimed at solving existing problems and driving technological trends. Continuous investments in research and development help it remain ahead of the competition.
4. Industry Partnerships: Improving the Nvidia Value Chain Through Collaborations and Agreements
The company does not seclude itself from the entire tech sector. It believes that partnerships or collaborations are essential to advancing its business interest. Linkages with different business organizations across different industries and sectors and academic or research institutions have even helped it develop its research and development capabilities. It also pursues partnerships as part of its value-adding corporate social responsibility program.
Nvidia holds the annual NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference or GTC which focuses on accelerated computing, graphics technology, and artificial intelligence. The conference is a global experience that brings together different stakeholders from different fields and disciplines around the world. These include scientists, engineers, researchers and academics, developers, creators, other business organizations, thought leaders, and decision-makers.
The conference is an important event for Nvidia because it allows the company to showcase its latest products and technologies to a global audience while also providing it with an opportunity to build and maintain relationships with important partners and customers. It also serves as a platform for the company to educate attendees about current and future trends in different facets of technology and reinforce its position as one of the leaders in the tech sector.
Another interesting collaborative pursuit of the company is the NVIDIA Venture Capital Alliance. This is an initiative between Nvidia and venture capital firms or tech investors around the world focusing on startups building cutting-edge technology with artificial intelligence, data science, and high-performance computing. The alliance allows investors to discover new investment opportunities and helps startups get needed funding.
5. Manufacturing Outsourcing: Focusing on Product Development while Keeping Costs Under Control
Nvidia does not manufacture its own hardware products. It does not own and operate production facilities similar. It is also worth mentioning that it is a fabless semiconductor company that designs graphics processors or other hardware components and have them manufactured by contractors. Outsourcing is another critical element of the business strategy of Nvidia. This is similar to the business strategy of Apple and its specific supply chain strategy.
One of the companies that manufacture Nvidia products is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company or TSMC. It is responsible for producing the GeForce line of consumer-oriented graphics processors, the Quadro brand of professional graphics cards, and data center accelerators and artificial intelligence accelerators under the Tesla brand. TSMC is one of the largest and most advanced semiconductor foundries in the world.
There are several advantages to outsourcing manufacturing. The first centers on cost savings. It allows a particular company to save on manufacturing costs. It also takes advantage of the production capabilities and other competitive advantages of outsourced partners. These include economies of scale and mass production. Outsourcing also helps in reducing risks associated with supply chain disruptions and specific production disruptions.
Outsourcing is an important strategy for Nvidia because it enables it to focus on its core competencies of designing and marketing hardware products while building the other components of its platform strategy. It also allows the company to bring to market its products more quickly and efficiently. The technical expertise of outsourced manufacturers also helps in improving product development and ensuring product quality.