Vinod Khosla (born 28 January 1955) is an Indian American billionaire businessman and venture capitalist. He is a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and the founder of Khosla Ventures. In 2014, Forbes counted him among the 400 richest people in the United States. In 2020, he was listed No. 353 on the Forbes 400 list.
Early life and education
Khosla’s father was an officer in the Indian Army and was posted at New Delhi, India. He attended Mount St Mary’s School. Khosla read about the founding of Intel in Electronic Engineering Times as a teenager, and this inspired him to pursue technology as a career. He did a BTech in electrical engineering from IIT Delhi, a master’s in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
After completing his MBA at Stanford in 1980, Khosla worked for electronic design automation start-up Daisy Systems (founded January 1981).
In 1982, Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems (SUN is the acronym for the Stanford University Network), along with Stanford classmates Scott McNealy, Andy Bechtolsheim, and UC Berkeley computer science graduate student Bill Joy. Khosla served as the first chairman and CEO from 1982 to 1984, when he left the company to become a venture capitalist.
In 1986, Khosla joined the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins as a general partner. At Kleiner, Khosla became a recognized venture capitalist, with several successful early-stage investments. Khosla also played a key role with several of the tech industry’s most spectacular failures, including Asera, Dynabook, BroadBand Office, Excite@Home, and many others.
He also invested in an Indian microfinance company, SKS Microfinance, which lends small loans to poor women in rural India. Khosla is also one of the founders of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, and has guest-edited a special issue of The Economic Times, a business newspaper in India.
In 2004, he founded Khosla Ventures. Khosla was featured on Dateline NBC in May 2006, where he discussed the practicality of ethanol as a gasoline substitute. He is known to have invested heavily in ethanol companies in hopes of widespread adoption.
Khosla was a major proponent of the “Yes on 87” campaign to pass California’s Proposition 87, The Clean Energy Initiative, which failed to pass in November 2006.
In 2006, Khosla’s wife Neeru co-founded the CK-12 Foundation, which aims to develop open-source textbooks and lower the cost of education in America and the rest of the world. Khosla and his wife are also donors to the Wikimedia Foundation, in the amount of $600,000.
In 2020, he was listed No. 353 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America.
Khosla formed his own venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures, in 2004. The firm is based in Menlo Park, California, and manages approximately $1 billion of investor capital as well as investments funded by Khosla himself.
In September 2009, Khosla completed fundraising for two new funds to invest in cleantech and information technology start-ups. Khosla Ventures III secured $750 million of investor commitments to invest in traditional early-stage and growth-stage companies. Khosla also raised $250 million for Khosla Seed, which will invest in higher-risk opportunities.
In May 2010, it was announced that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was to join Khosla Ventures to provide strategic advice regarding investments in technologies focused on the environment Khosla Ventures also invested in HackerRank.
Other accomplishments and affiliations
Khosla has founded a number of other businesses and organizations, and was involved with the founding of Daisy Systems in 1981.
Khosla served as the honorary chair of the DonorsChoose San Francisco Bay Area advisory board. In 2000, Khosla was a recipient of the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. In 2007, Khosla was an award recipient in the Northern California region for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award. Khosla is a member of the board of trustees of the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley. The center is focused on finding solutions to address the crisis of extreme poverty and disease in the developing world. He is an advisor for HackerRank, a website for competitive coding. Khosla is a member of the Xconomists, an ad hoc team of editorial advisors for the tech news and media company, Xconomy.
Khosla endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
He is married to Neeru Khosla, his “childhood girlfriend”. They have four children.