Vinod Khosla is an entrepreneur, investor and technologist. He is the founder of Khosla Ventures, a firm focused on assisting entrepreneurs to build impactful new energy and technology companies. Vinod grew up dreaming of being an entrepreneur, despite being from an Indian army household with no business or technology connections. Since the age of 16, when he first heard about the founding of Intel, he dreamt of starting his own technology company.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, Vinod failed to start a soymilk company to service the many people in India who did not have refrigerators. Instead, he came to the U.S. to further his academic studies and received a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Eventually, his startup dreams led him to Silicon Valley, where he received a master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Upon graduation, Vinod co-founded Daisy Systems, the first significant computer-aided design system for electrical engineers. The company went on to achieve significant revenue, profits and an IPO. Then, driven by the frustration of having to design the computer hardware on which the Daisy software needed to be built, Vinod started the standards-based Sun Microsystems in 1982 to build workstations for software developers. As the founding CEO of Sun, he pioneered open systems and commercial RISC processors. Sun Microsystems was funded by Vinod’s longtime friend and board member John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB).
In 1986, Vinod joined KPCB as a general partner. While there, he played a crucial role in taking on Intel’s monopoly by building and growing semiconductor company, Nexgen, which eventually was acquired by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Nexgen/AMD was the only microprocessor to have significant success against Intel. Thereafter, Vinod helped incubate the idea and business plan for Juniper Networks to take on Cisco System’s dominance of the router market. He also was involved in the formulation of the early advertising-based search strategy for Excite. In addition to his many other contributions at KPCB, he helped transform the moribund telecommunications business and its archaic SONET implementations with Cerent Corporation, which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 1999 for $7.2 billion.
In 2004, driven by the need for flexibility to accommodate four teenaged children, the desire to be more experimental and to fund sometimes imprudent “science experiments,” Vinod formed Khosla Ventures to focus on both for-profit and social impact investments. His goals remain the same: work and learn from fun and knowledgeable entrepreneurs, build impactful companies by leveraging innovation and spend time with a partnership that makes a difference. Vinod has a passion for nascent technologies that have beneficial effects and economic impact on society. While he only serves on the boards of a few select companies, he works closely with most KV companies as they face transitions or key decisions.
Vinod’s greatest passion is being a mentor to entrepreneurs building technology-based businesses. He is driven by the desire to make a positive impact through scaling new energy sources, achieving petroleum independence and promoting a pragmatic approach to the environment. He also is passionate about social entrepreneurship with a special emphasis on microfinance as a poverty alleviation tool. He is a supporter of many microfinance organizations in India and Africa. He also has been experimenting with innovations in education and global housing.
Vinod also is a charter member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a non-profit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals that was founded in 1992 and has more than 40 chapters in nine countries today. He is a founding board member of the Indian School of Business (ISB). Vinod holds a bachelor of technology degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.