Biography of Vinod Khosla

By: Jimit Shah | Views: 2914 | Date: 31-May-2010

Vinod Khosla, a native Indian and the world's No.2 ranked Venture Capitalist, is considered as one of the most influential personalities in Silicon valley. He is a partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Aged 50, he was among the first venture capitalist to understand that internet technology and fiber optics could make communications so fast, cheap and easy and spot the potential of companies that sell gear for high-speed optical networks.

Venture Capitalist, One of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems 
 
Vinod Khosla, a native Indian and the world's No.2 ranked Venture Capitalist, is 
considered as one of the most influential personalities in Silicon valley.  He is a partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Aged 50, he was among the first venture capitalist to understand that internet technology and fiber optics could make communications so fast, cheap and easy and spot the potential of companies that sell gear for high-speed optical networks.

He was born in 1955 in a military family in New Delhi, India.  He earned a B.Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. After that he attempted to start his own company in India, a dream since the age of 15. Being frustrated by the experience, he gave up his mission. Then he went to United States and completed M.S degree in Biomedical Sciences at Carnegie Mellon and also earned an M B A degree from Stanford University in 1979.

Vowing to become a millionaire before 30, ambitious Khosla found a business idea and partners from Standford business club. They found Daisy Systems, a computer-aided engineering and design company, but failed quickly because the economics of the market went against it At 27, Khosla became successful when he co-founded Sun Microsystems with a German student Andreas Bechtolsheim, a multi millionaire.  Khosla ran Sun until 1984.  In 1986, he joined in Kleiner Perkins, a firm that funded Sun as a general Partner. During this time, Khosla has played key roles in starting companies that are involved in multimedia, semiconductors, video games, Internet software and computer networking.  He conceived the idea to optimize SONET for data, a scheme that led to the creation of Cerent Corp, a telecommunications-equipment company which Cisco acquired in 1999 for $6.9 billion. Khosla was also instrumental in launching Juniper Networks, a company many thought as the next Cisco. Others include Viant, Extreme Networks, Lightera etc. 

Khosla has won admiration because of his ability to build and fashion companies and technologies. He plays an active role and is not satisfied to sit back and let others work the plans while he okays the progress. Though he was successful in almost all his ventures, there has been one time that Khosla had been wrong. He backed 3DO Co, a game-maker whose shares now sell for a fraction of the initial offering price in 1993. 

Vinod Khosla came from an ordinary middle class background. His father was in army. At the age of 16, Vinod Khosla read about the founding of Intel. This motivated him to nurture dreams of starting his own technology company. At the age of 20, after graduating in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi, Vinod Khosla started a soy milk company to cater to those people in India who did not have refrigerators. But his venture failed. 

Vinod Khosla went to the US and did his Masters in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. His entrepreneurial ambitions attracted him to Silicon Valley and subsequently he did his MBA from Stanford University in 1980.

After graduating from Stanford, Vinod Khosla founded Daisy Systems with two other founders. Daisy Systems was the first significant computer aided design system for electrical engineers. The company went on to make huge profits but driven by the frustration of having to design the computer hardware on which the Daisy software needed to be built, Vinod Khosla left the company.  

In Vinod Khosla, started the standards based Sun Microsystems in 1982 to build workstations for software developers. Sun was funded by his long time friend and board member John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. At Sun Microsystems, Vinod Khosla pioneered "open systems" and RISC processors. He left Sun Microsystems in 1985 and joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) in 1986, where he continues to be a general partner of KPCB funds through KP X. 
Vinod Khosla also challenged Intel's monopoly by developing Nexgen/AMD. He also conceptualized the idea and business plan for Juniper to take on Cisco's dominance of the router market. Vinod Khosla is also one of the founding fathers of The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE), a not-for-profit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals founded in 1992. In 2004, he formed khoslaventures to fund knowledgeable entrepreneurs in their new "social impact" ventures.

Vinod Khosla has a keen interest in nascent technologies that can have a beneficial effect and economic impact on society. Presently, he is looking into practicality of the use of ethanol as a gasoline substitute.

Khosla's current effort is funding and managing application service provider start-ups.He is chairman of two such firms, Corio and Asera.  This much respected entrepreneur lives in Woodside, CA with his wife and four daughters. Khosla believes in closeness in family. His rules for life include having 
breakfast and dinner with his family. He is one of three billionaires of Indian origin in Forbes magazine’s list of America’s richest 400 people.  
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