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It's not just chips. Nvidia is betting on other tech that could be impacted by AI.

Lloyd Lee   

It's not just chips. Nvidia is betting on other tech that could be impacted by AI.
  • Nvidia's chips primed the company to leverage the latest artificial-intelligence boom.
  • But the GPU-maker is targeting other areas where AI could apply.

The California chip maker Nvidia is the latest tech company to so far have a blockbuster year as it surpassed expectations and flexed a market cap of more than $2 trillion by the end of February.

That makes Nvidia one of the three largest companies by market cap, behind Microsoft and Apple.

The company's recent boom can be explained by a fairly simple formula.

Advancements in artificial intelligence have fields beyond tech — such as healthcare and finance — racing to figure out how to implement the technology. To do so, you need chips known as graphics processing units, or GPUs, to power the AI tech. And Nvidia has the goods.

But chips aren't the only point of focus. Nvidia is looking elsewhere to take advantage of its current leverage in the recent AI craze.

The company has been expanding its venture-capital footprint and throwing money at startups applying AI to a wide range of industries.

An analysis from Dealogic — a data company that services financial firms — shared with Business Insider showed that last year, the chip maker invested in nearly three dozen startups.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on Nvidia's investing strategy, said that was more than three times the number of investments the company had in 2022.

The Nvidia 'ecosystem'

Fields of interest for Nvidia range from software to pharmaceuticals and healthcare. In May, Moon Surgical secured $55.4 million in venture backing co-led by Sofinnova Partners and NVentures, one of Nvidia's investing arms, according to Cathay Health, a healthcare-centered investment firm participating in the funding round.

Nvidia also disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing from February that it had stakes in small companies applying AI, such as Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a drug-discovery company, and SoundHound AI, which develops speech-recognition technology.

Spokespeople for Sofinnova Partners and NVentures didn't respond to a request for comment sent during the weekend.

The investments appear to have paid off. The Journal cited financial statements showing Nvidia's investments were worth about $1.55 billion as of January versus $300 million from the previous year. Last year, Nvidia's stock soared 239%.

But as the Journal noted, these investments go beyond financial returns.

By investing in AI-focused ventures, Nvidia further feeds the need for the valuable chips it makes, nourishing what the company refers to as the "ecosystem."

A Nvidia spokesperson declined to comment but pointed to a December blog post outlining how the company supports ventures "harnessing Nvidia technologies."

"Nvidia's corporate investments arm focuses on strategic collaborations," the company says. "These partnerships stimulate joint innovation, enhance the Nvidia platform, and expand the ecosystem."

Nvidia's star CEO, Jensen Huang, has also made a point of emphasizing the growth potential of this ecosystem.

In a February earnings call, Huang spoke about collaborations with "the biology companies, the healthcare companies, financial-services companies, AI developers, large-language-model developers, autonomous-vehicle companies, robotics companies."

"All of these startups, large companies, healthcare, financial services, and auto and such are working on Nvidia's platform," he said. "We support them directly."