We already knew that Nvidia Founder and CEO Jensen Huang and AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su were related somehow. It is also a matter of record that they were both born in Tainan, Taiwan. Now we have a much clearer picture of how closely related the pair of PC tech titans are, thanks to the work of senior media person and family heritage researcher Wu Jia Jin, host of Jin Chat.
Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang’s fame has skyrocketed in recent months. His newfound ‘rock star’ like fame, as witnessed by thronging crowds at the recent Computex 2023 show, is most apparent in his country of birth, Taiwan. Is it because of the success story of Nvidia, the business focus of ordinary Taiwanese news broadcasts, or that Nvidia burst through the $1 trillion valuation milestone? It is probably a mix of these things, and now it means Huang is getting a lot more media coverage, both business and personal.
Circling back to Huang’s family connection with AMD boss Lisa Su, back in 2020, we thought that they weren’t very close relatives. Reinforcing this belief, Lisa Su told CTA boss Gary Shapiro in a Masters of Leadership webinar that she and Huang were “distant relatives, so some complex second cousin type of thing.” The truth may be they are quite a lot closer than that. Imagine if one of your cousins has a child — that is basically the relationship between Huang and Su, if the published family tree is accurate. We would thus say they are pretty close relatives, and it isn’t that complex to understand.
Su may have felt the relationship was more distant and complex due to how close, or distant, certain segments of the family were. Remember that Jensen Huang’s grandfather (Su’s great-grandfather) had at least 12 children, which would imply lots and lots of cousins not added to the family tree. Moreover, we know that Huang’s family emigrated to Oregon, US, when he was just four years old. Similarly, Su’s family emigrated to the US when she was just three years old. There isn’t just the likelihood of a great mass of relatives which are hard to keep track of, the family was also scattered geographically wide when the CEOs were at a very young age.
So, how would we describe the relationship between Nvidia’s Huang and AMD’s Su? In English family relationship terminology, they could be described as first cousins once removed. Su could also say that Huang is her second uncle. However, the naming of relatives in Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien is much more complex, depending on the male/female branch of the family tree, gender, birth order, and so on.
Other than the pinning down of the precise family relationship between Huang and Su, the precipitated media reports recount the respective CEO’s life stories. They aren’t quite rags-to-riches tales, but they apparently worked very hard to get where they are today; they didn’t inherit these tech empires.
Lastly, it is amusing to see how the Chinese language media frames this family tree story. Some reports claim to have now discovered the true relationship between “the godfather of AI and …the queen of semiconductors.”