NVIDIA, Zoom CEOs Talk the Future of Work

by Brian Caulfield

Amid a pandemic that’s put much of the world’s work, learning, even family reunions online, two of the leaders who have made today’s virtual world possible met Thursday on, where else — Zoom — to talk about what’s next.

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan spoke at the online video conference company’s Zoomtopia user event in a casual, wide-ranging conversation.

“If not for what Zoom has done, the recent pandemic would be unbearable,” Huang said. The present situation, Huang explained, “has accelerated the future, it has brought forward the urgency of a digital future.”

In front of a virtual audience from all over the globe, the two spoke about their entrepreneurial journeys, NVIDIA’s unique company culture, and how NVIDIA is knitting together the virtual and real worlds to help NVIDIA employees collaborate.

Huang’s appearance at Zoomtopia follows NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference last week, where Huang outlined NVIDIA’s view of data center computing and introduced new technologies in data centers, edge AI and healthcare.

Yuan playfully wore a leather jacket, matching Huang’s trademark attire—and briefly displayed a sleek virtual kitchen as his backdrop, paying tribute to the presentations Huang has given from his kitchen this year—began their conversation with Huang by asking about his early life.

“I was fortunate that my parents worked hard and all of the people I was surrounded by worked hard,” Huang said, adding that he was focused on on school and sports, especially table tennis. “To me working is living, working is breathing and, to me, it’s not work at all — I enjoy it too much.”

It’s NVIDIA’s mission, Huang said, that continues to motivate him, as the company has gone from inventing the GPU to pioneering new possibilities in robotics and AI.

The common thread: since the beginning, NVIDIA has had a singular focus on accelerated computing.

“We built a time machine,” Huang said, touching on NVIDIA’s work in drug discovery as an example. “So, instead of a particular drug taking 10 years to discover, we would like drugs and therapies and vaccines to be discovered in months.”

Zoom and NVIDIA, Huang said, share a “singular purpose and a sense of destiny,” Huang said, one that has made the world a better place.

“The fact that Zoom existed and your vision came to reality means we can be together even if we’re not together,” Huang said.

“You can look at your work and imagine the impact on society and the benefits it will bring and somehow it’s your job to do it,” Huang said. “If you don’t do it, no one else will — and that’s thrilling to me, I love that feeling.”

Yuan also asked about NVIDIA’s culture and the future of work, one which Huang believes will increasingly meld the physical and the virtual worlds.

Today, for example, we might report to your colleagues that we’ll be WFH, or working from home.

Office lingo, however, may change to reflect the new reality, where being at the office isn’t necessarily the norm.

“In the future we will say we’re ‘going to the office,’” Huang said. “Today we say ‘WFH,’ in the future we will say ‘GTO.’”

Tools such as Zoom enable colleagues to meet, face to face, from home, from an office, from anywhere in the world.

More and more, work will take place in a hybrid of office and home, physical and virtual reality.

NVIDIA, for example, has created a platform called NVIDIA Omniverse that lets colleagues working in different places and with different tools collaborate in real time.

“The Adobe world can connect to the Catia world and so on,” Huang said. “We can have different designers working with each other at their homes.”

The present moment has “brought forward the urgency of a digital future, it has made us aware that completely physical is not sufficient, that completely digital is not sufficient,” Huang said. “The future is a mixed reality world.”