The Book of Vinod Khosla: This Week on Studio 1.0
Vinod Khosla is best known for shunning convention and taking massive risks on companies he calls “black swans” — companies with a near complete chance of failure. But, if they succeed, the world will be forever changed. I’ve been curious about where this audacity comes from and convinced Khosla to sit down for Bloomberg Studio 1.0. Though Khosla may sound incredibly intimidating, in person he’s got a warm, friendly smile and even brought his son to watch our interview. He talked to us about his journey from Delhi to founding Sun Microsystems and later Khosla Ventures. A few takeaways from the Book of Khosla:
- Most VCs hurt rather than help companies by spouting “hypocritical politeness” rather than valuable advice. Khosla himself rarely attends board meetings “because I can’t stand to listen to other VCs talk about things that I actually think hurt and entrepreneur” and claims he’s never voted against a founder in 30 years. That doesn’t mean he won’t argue with them, passionately. Here’s his advice to founders:
2. Khosla believes the majority of jobs will be done by machines in 40 years or so, high and low-end. Everything from farm work to burger-flipping to legal research, radiology and even oncology. This will create massive income disparity. But it won’t be the end of the world. Here’s why:
3. Khosla has been blamed for over-investing in cleantech given that the field has yet to have its “moment.” He admits he’s made mistakes — “My life is full of way more mistakes than successes.” But he calls them “successes that you give a chance to happen.” Khosla believes it’s time to stop subsidizing wind, and perhaps even solar, to give new energy technologies a chance to flourish.
4. What’s going on with Martin’s Beach? Khosla has been involved in an ongoing lawsuit over a secluded beach property he bought in 2008 where he’s since restricted access to the public. Everyone from surfers to the California Coastal Commission are not happy. The dispute has nabbed local headlines, yet this is the first time I’ve heard Khosla address them publicly. “It’s about principles” — Take a listen.
5. One of Khosla Ventures’ most controversial portfolio companies, eggless mayo maker Hampton Creek is now facing probes by the SEC and the DOJ for allegedly buying its own mayonnaise off store shelves to juice sales. Though the company has prominent investors — including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff — few have addressed the allegations on the record. Khosla, as you can imagine, did not hold back. Here are his thoughts on Hampton Creek’s future and CEO Josh Tetrick.
Catch my full interview with Khosla here. Next week on Studio 1.0 — former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Believe it or not the bombastic guy who brought life to software conferences that will never be seen again was once shy. He talks about life since Microsoft, owning the LA Clippers and a big stake in Twitter, as well as his current passion, government. And if you missed Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom last week, you can catch it here. He goes in-depth on his relationship with his boss, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.