NVIDIA's Last Laugh with Apple

NVIDIA hits $3T market cap and soars past Apple

Back in March, I wrote the following footnote in a post about NVIDIA's just-announced Blackwell chips:

NVIDIA is getting dangerously close to passing Apple -- yes, Apple -- in market cap. Forget Intel, currently, Apple sits at $2.68T while NVIDIA is at $2.21T. In fact, they're basically as close to Apple as Apple is to current #1 Microsoft ($3.10T). Apple had a nice boost early on from their own AI-related report today, before settling back to reality. How much would Jensen Huang like to pass Apple, do we think?

Well, it took nearly a whole three months, but here we are. Today, NVIDIA hit the $3T market cap mark and passed Apple in that same metric. NVIDIA is now the second most valuable company in the world, only behind Microsoft. At this rate, they'll catch them by Friday, just ahead of their 10-for-1 stock split.

The stock run-up has been totally and completely insane. The price is up over 200% in the past year. Over 150% in the past six months alone. Five years ago, NVIDIA's stock was trading at $36/share. Today it closed at $1,224/share.

Is this sustainable? I mean, no. And it's not because NVIDIA isn't a great company. This run is just almost meme stock-like in its frenzy, with shades of Tesla, of course. It has just transformed into this sort of index bet on AI. And while AI is also real, it also can't sustain the current investment hype surrounding it forever.

But for now, founder Jensen Huang should enjoy this moment. While it's not quite Michael Dell's infamous 1997 comment about a then very-much-in-trouble Apple: "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." Huang has had his own long-standing beef with who else? Apple.

Back in 2009, Apple severed ties with the then-graphics card maker over a range of issues from defects to contracts. As Charlie Demerjian put it at the time: Apple to Nvidia: Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Back then Apple had a market cap of $140B. NVIDIA? Just under $4B. To quote that dumb new Justin Long Qualcomm commercial: things change.

Apple stopped supporting NVIDIA cards much to the chagrin of many Mac gaming enthusiasts. And while relations have seemingly thawed a bit very recently, with NVIDIA doing some work to help support Vision Pro, presumably Huang still remembers when their Goliath stopped playing with his David.

One more thing: on January 16, 2006, Apple passed Dell in market cap. John Markoff got the email Steve Jobs sent to employees to mark the occasion:

Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn't perfect at predicting the future. Based on today's stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell. Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today. Steve.

A humorous, albeit awfully tame victory lap. Especially compared to what Jobs had to say back in 1997, as relayed by John Lily, who was in the audience at the time:

Someone in the audience asked him about Michael Dell’s suggestion in the press a few days previous that Apple should just shut down and return the cash to shareholders, and as I recall, Steve’s response was: “Fuck Michael Dell.”