How do you pronounce ‘Nvidia’? Here’s how to say the $3 trillion company’s name, which has mythological roots

The first “Nvidia” was Invidia, the Roman goddess of envy. Read More...

Most of the world’s top corporations have simple names. Steve Jobs named Apple while on a fruitarian diet, and found the name “fun, spirited and not intimidating.” Plus, it came before Atari in the phonebook. Microsoft is an amalgamation of the words “microcomputer” and “software,” while Walmart a combination of the last name of the superstore’s founder, Sam Walton, and “mart.”

Nvidia—which briefly held the title of the most valuable company in the world this past week—challenges these simple branding conventions. The consonant-ridden name and eerie, 1990s-esque op-art logo recall its underdog, start-up roots rather than its current reality: a behemoth cornering the AI chips market.

Regardless of its unconventionality, Nvidia’s prominence demands conversation, and conversation demands pronunciation. So, what is the correct way to pronounce Nvidia?

According to its website, Nvidia is pronounced “en-VID-eeyah,” not NUH-vid-eeyah, as many have called it.

Where did the ‘Nvidia’ name come from? 

When Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang started the company with his friends Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem in 1993, they hashed out almost every detail of their new business, except for the name. Sitting in a Palo Alto Denny’s—a venue chosen for its cheap coffee and for Huang’s experience working there in his youth—the three cofounders drew blanks for the title of their venture.

So, as they continued building, they simply named their files “NV” for next version, Huang previously told Fortune. When time came to incorporate the company, the three were forced to find a name. At first, they chose NVision, until they learned that a toilet paper manufacturer already took the name.

After going back to the drawing board, the cofounders scraped through all words with “NV” in them, until Huang suggested Nvidia, riffing on the Latin word invidia, meaning “envy.”

The name worked because the three had hopes to design such a powerful graphics chip that it would make competitors, as Priem previously told The New Yorker, “green with envy.”

The First ‘Nvidia

The first “Nvidia” was Invidia, the Roman goddess of envy. Her heart was “green with bile,” her tongue dripped poison, she had a “pallor smeared across her face, her entire body is gaunt, her eyesight squints at everything,” as the Roman poet Ovid describes her in the Metamorphosis

Company branding doesn’t ofter draw from Roman mythology, much less from a figure so unseemly. And yet, the envy motif appears to be littered throughout the company’s products. The eighth generation of its graphics processing units had the slogan “green with envy.”

Nvidia’s logo, a green, spiraling eye, may have also drawn inspiration from the first Invidia. Her figure was associated with a piercing gaze, an “evil eye” that casts a curse upon those she envies. People of many religions still wear “evil eye” amulets, or recite prayers, to ward off the curse.

Many companies now have reason to be jealous of Nvidia. With a market cap of $3.1 trillion, unprecedented market concentration and seemingly limitless growth, Nvidia’s success is what every CEO dreams of.

Huang may have foreseen this, and intentionally placed envy at the forefront as a reminder of his competitors clawing at him. According to The New Yorker, for years Huang opened every staff meeting with the words, “our company is 30 days from going out of business.”

Apparently, even after all the success, the phrase remains the unofficial corporate motto.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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