Nvidia, one of the global leaders in artificial intelligence (AI) chip production with headquarters in California, reportedly faced a police raid in its French offices this week. The action came as a part of a general inquiry of French antitrust authorities into the cloud computing sector.
On Sept. 28, the Wall Street Journal reported the raid, although neither Nvidia nor the French enforcement agencies have officially commented on what happened.
A press release on the webpage of the French antitrust agency, the Autorité de la Concurrence, refers to an unannounced inspection in the graphics cards sector. According to the release, a judge authorized the raid at the premise of the company “having implemented anticompetitive practices in the graphics cards sector.”
However, the raid itself does not “pre-suppose the existence of a breach of the law, which could be imputed to the company,” as the message from the agency specifies.
Autorité de la Concurrence refers to its own opinion, issued in conclusion to a year-long study of the cloud computing sector. Published in June 2023, this document does not mention Nvidia. Instead it focuses on other tech companies, namely the three hyper scalers” — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Clou,d and Microsoft Azure. According to the agency’s data, they represent 80% of the spending growth in public cloud infrastructures and applications in France in 2021:
“Amazon and Microsoft have captured 46% and 17% respectively of revenues from IaaS and PaaS services in 2021. Given their financial capacities and their digital ecosystems, these hyperscalers are in a position to hinder competition development.”
The agency is considering various options provided by the national competition laws and the European Data Act to combat this tendency.
Nvidia inevitably comes under the regulators’ attention due to its unique position as the hardware producer for the most innovative sectors of the digital industry. The company’s recent quarterly report revealed that the United States regulators asked it to curb exports of AI chips to “some Middle East countries.” A day later, the United States Department of Commerce denied this information.