Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang is heading to China to meet with tech executives in the world’s biggest chip market, despite rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter.
Huang, who headlined a trade show in Taiwan this week, plans to travel to China for the first time in years in June, said the people, who asked not to be identified because his schedule is private.
Companies on his itinerary include gaming leader Tencent Holdings and TikTok-owner ByteDance, one of the people said.
Nvidia is emerging as a critical player in the booming field of artificial intelligence, but its position in China has been complicated by geopolitics. U.S. sanctions unveiled by the Biden administration last year prevent the semiconductor company from selling its most advanced AI chipsets to Chinese customers, including Tencent and ByteDance.
Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia, which gets about a fifth of its revenue from China, quickly retooled its lineup after the ban to create new chips for the Chinese market that it says are compliant with the restrictions.
Nvidia’s chipsets are considered the gold standard for training AI systems, like the large language model behind ChatGPT.
Huang, 60, is hardly alone in courting Chinese customers. He joins a growing list of corporate bosses taking advantage of China’s post-COVID reopening to visit the world’s No. 2 economy, including Apple’s Tim Cook and billionaire Elon Musk.
Despite a pandemic-era downturn, China remains a key market for many of the world’s biggest companies and many economists expect growth to re-accelerate over the course of 2023.
Huang has rocketed to celebrity status — at least in tech circles — over the past week. Nvidia forecast booming demand for AI chips that pushed its market valuation to $1 trillion on Tuesday, turning it into the first chipmaker to surpass that mark.
At events in Taiwan this week, Huang was mobbed by the media and fans seeking selfies with the CEO.
Nvidia retreated from the $1 trillion milestone on Wednesday, with its shares falling as much as 4 percent to $385.01. As of 12:02 p.m. in New York on Wednesday, the company’s market valuation stood at $954.9 billion.