Nvidia CEO: My mom taught me English a ‘random 10 words at a time’ before we emigrated from Taiwan

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Taiwanese-American billionaire Jensen Huang’s company is at the forefront of technological solutions for artificial intelligence, video gaming and autonomous cars.

But the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based Nvidia, a maker of powerful computer chips, credits his parents for putting him on the road to success.

“I’m the product of my parents’ dreams and aspirations,” Huang, who is married with two children of his own, told CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in a recent interview.

In the late 1960s, Huang’s father, who was then in his 30s, visited the United States for the first time, traveling from Taiwan to New York City for a worker training program.

When he returned from training with Carrier, an air conditioner maker now owned by United Technologies, the elder Huang vowed to send Jensen and his older brother to America.

“[In] the pursuing years, my mom taught us English to prepare us,” the Nvidia chief said. “At the time, my mom didn’t understand any English at all.”

But that didn’t stop his mother, Huang, now 55, told Cramer. “Every single day, she would pick a random 10 words from the dictionary and ask us to spell it and ask us to tell her the meaning.”

“She [had] no idea whether we’d said it right or not. But nonetheless, my father’s dream [and] my mom’s aspirations for our success [are] what ultimately put us here,” he said.

“I owe them a great deal,” added Huang, who is worth an estimated $5.6 billion, according to Forbes. As of Thursday, May 3, Nvidia’s stock market value was more than $140 billion.

In the past five years, Nvidia stock has soared roughly 1,500 percent from around $14.40 per share in May 2013 to around $232 per share as of Thursday’s close.

Huang, who co-founded Nvidia in 1993, arrived in the United States in the early 1970s with his brother. Their parents sent them to live with relatives while they got their education.

In previous interviews, Huang said that growing up playing video games taught him perseverance. Losing over and over again made him push himself to win, he said in 2010.

Huang later attended Oregon State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering — perhaps inspired by his father’s chemical engineering background.

Waiting tables at Denny’s in his 20s brought the future Nvidia CEO out of his shell by teaching him how “make the best of a state of chaos,” he once told the New York Times.

Huang went on to earn a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University. By 29, Huang and two friends — engineers Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem — co-founded Nvidia with just $40,000.

In 1999, Huang led Nvidia to create GPUs, or graphics processing units, which became integral to the development of graphic-intensive video gaming and, eventually, machine learning.

In a 2009 blog post, Nvidia described the GPU as a computer’s “soul” to the central processing unit’s “brain.”

— Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Nvidia.

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