Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said his company does not plan to lay off employees amid the coronavirus pandemic and will in fact accelerate raises in recognition of the chipmaker's "vital" work.
Huang made the announcement in a letter to employees Tuesday, in which he outlined the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and underscored the company's role in addressing pressing issues facing the world now.
While Nvidia is postponing its annual review process in recognition of the economic fallout of the pandemic — which Huang said has already reached Great Depression era-levels — the company will not make layoffs and will in fact give raises to employees sooner than planned.
"Immediately I received questions about whether we are also planning a layoff. NO — precisely the opposite," he said in the letter, which was published to LinkedIn by a company human resources executive. "We are accelerating your raise to put some extra money in your hands. We can put tens of millions of more dollars in the hands of our families in the coming months."
Nvidia had 13,775 employees as of Jan. 26, 2020, according to a February filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said in mid-February that it expected a US$100 million revenue hit from the coronavirus, a small fraction of the roughly US$3 billion it projected for the first quarter of 2021.
With the world reeling from the devastating effects of the pandemic, Huang said Nvidia's work in graphics, science, artificial intelligence and robotics is "more vital to the future than ever."
"The products we offer are addressing urgent needs. Stay-at-home is driving PC sales. Remote design and collaboration technologies are needed," he said. "Gaming is replacing other entertainment and hitting record levels. The shift from physical to digital will further accelerate cloud computing use."
Interest in robotics for retail, warehouse logistics and cleaning "is surging," Huang added, while the need for diagnostic instruments and scientific computing are in "high demand" among healthcare providers "as the industry looks for ways to mitigate the impact of this virus."
Huang highlighted the various efforts Nvidia is making to fight the coronavirus, including the company's new membership in The White House's COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. The company has also donated free licenses of its Parabricks genomics processing software to researchers at 575 sites across 88 countries to aid with drug discovery.
Huang said three Nvidia employees had contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but have since made full recoveries. However, an employee's mother recently died from the virus, he added.
In the letter's closing, Huang thanked doctors, grocery clerks and other front-line workers for their sacrifices to keep essential services running.
"These doctors, nurses, first responders, police officers, sanitation workers, grocery clerks, and delivery drivers are superheroes," he said. "They fill us with hope and optimism that the world is good."