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On Tuesday, a plaque was unveiled at the chain’s Silicon Valley diner to mark the special place Denny's holds in Nvidia lore. The plaque is located at one of the diner’s tables and proudly boasts that visitors are seated at “the booth that launched a $1 trillion company.”
Nvidia’s origin story, where CEO Jensen Huang got his start and cooked up the idea of introducing a revolutionary family of 3D chips at Denny’s diner, is pretty well known. Much of the foundational work that got Nvidia to where it is today was begun during the CEO’s stint at this humble eatery.
The Nvidia CEO recalls meeting at Denny’s with Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem in 1993 “to discuss creating a chip that would enable realistic 3D graphics on personal computers,” notes the Nvidia Blog. According to Jensen Huang, important life and work lessons were learned from working at Denny’s. The business, where he started as a dishwasher and also worked as a busboy and server, “teaches you humility, it teaches you hard work, it teaches you hospitality,” he asserted.
Jensen Huang met with Denny’s CEO Kelli Valade (pictured top) to unveil the commemorative plaque (pictured below). Interestingly, both CEOs got their start at the diner chain during their teens. However, Huang’s path to CEO-dom wasn’t quite as straight as Valade’s.
Denny's Trillion-Dollar Incubator Contest
In addition to the plaque unveiling, the two CEOs were at the morning diner event to kick off the Denny’s Trillion-Dollar Incubator Contest. It isn’t quite as generous as it might sound, but it offers $25,000 in seed money “for the next $1 trillion idea.” The incubator contest runs until Nov 21 at 8.59 am, with the winner announced early next year.
Jensen Hasn't Forgotten His Serving Skills
Nvidia’s Bryan Catanzaro, VP of Applied Deep Learning Research, joined Huang at an after-work event the same day and provided some interesting commentary on the CEO's capabilities. Catanzaro says there were about 100 people at the after-work event, and Huang didn’t just sit and eat. Apparently, the trillion-dollar CEO made himself busy serving his 100 colleagues, where he “balanced ten plates on his arms while circulating among the crowd.”