Happy Birthday Vinod Khosla: The Indian Tech Mogul

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From being an IIT engineer to an entrepreneur to an investor to an Indian tech mogul, Vinod Khosla has seen various shades of startup ecosystems. He is the most influential venture capitalist not only in Silicon Valley America but also in the world. He has been assisting and investing in various companies ranging from video games, multimedia to internet software. At the age of 27, Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems, Inc., which he left after two years to become a Venture Capitalist.

Everybody else is afraid to fail, I do not really care because when I fail, I try something new.

Born: 28 January 1955, Delhi, India

Net Worth: $7.1 billion

Vinod Khosla is one of the most influential personalities of Silicon Valley. Here are a few amazing yet less known facts about his life:

  • Early Life: Vinod Khosla was born in New Delhi, India, to a military family. During his teenage, he once read about the founding of Intel Corporation, which inspired him to pursue a career in technology. He earned a B.Tech degree in electrical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. After that he attempted to founed a “soymilk” company in India, a dream he had since he was 15 years old. However, frustrated by the experience, he gave up. Later in 1970s, he moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, and MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
  • In 1981, Vinod Khosla co-founded Daisy Systems, a computer-aided engineering and design company. The company went on to make significant revenue, profits, and an initial public offering (IPO). While working there, he realised that companies like Daisy lacked a computing platform on which a developer could develop their applications so they had to do everything themselves, hardware and software. That’s how he came up with the idea for his next company, Sun Microsystems.
  • Birth of Sun Microsystems: On 24 February 1982, at age of 27, Vinod Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems along with Stanford classmates Scott McNealy, Andy Bechtolsheim, and UC Berkeley computer science graduate student Bill Joy. He served as the company’s first chairman and CEO between 1982 and 1984. Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL) for $7.4 billion in 2010.
Vinod Khosla

Just because you get funded does not mean you are successful.

  • Became Venture Capitalist: After quitting Sun Microsystems, Khosla decided to enter the venture market. In 1986, he joined a VC firm Kleiner Perkins as a general partner. Khosla quickly established himself as a well-known venture capitalist, with several successful early-stage investments under his belt. He has played key roles in a variety of startups, including multimedia, semiconductors, video games, Internet software and computer networking. He was the managing venture capitalist at Cerent Corporation, a telecommunications equipment company which Cisco acquired in 1999 for $7.2 billion. Khosla also played an instrumental role in the founding of Juniper Networks, which many regarded as the next Cisco.
  • Other Investments: With the extensive knowledge of investment in global companies, Khosla has helped various firms including SKS Microfinance, Viant, Lightera, Extreme Networks, etc. He has also made significant investments in ethanol-producing biofuel companies.
  • In 2004, Khosla founded Khosla Ventures with a whopping $1 billion in capital. His strategies and plans not only include the investment but also supporting and nurturing the startups and industrialists.
  • He is a charter member of The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE). Founded in 1992, TiE is a non-profit network catering to mentoring, educating, funding and incubating the entrepreneurs. It has 15,000 members across over 20 countries.
  • Khosla is an ardent Quora user and has answered various questions from the future threat of Artificial Intelligence to the effect of automation in coming years on jobs.

Experience in your business is important, but experience is a bias. What’s more important than experience is the rate of learning.

  • Khosla supported California’s Proposition 87, a clean energy Initiative that failed to pass in 2006.
  • His wife and he have donated $500,000 to Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organisation.
  • Khosla opted for an unsure and unknown path over a 9 to 5 high paying job. He recalls, “I’ve never worked on anything I don’t enjoy”. He feels India is a fertile ground for investment but due to lack of research, he is not investing in Indian firms as of now. He also believes that India has opportunities similar to those that led to China’s rapid development.
  • With the net worth of $2.7 billion, Vinod Khosla was ranked 353rd on the Forbes 400 2020 – the list of wealthiest Americans. In 2021, Forbes ranked him 92 with the net worth of $8.6 billion. He was also the 1174th richest person in the world, according to Forbes Billionaires 2021.
  • Khosla was also ranked 60th on “The Midas List: Top Tech Investors 2020” by Forbes. He was ranked 40th on Forbes Midas List 2021, for the notable deal of Instacart.
  • Marriage: Vinod Khosla is married Neeru Khosla, his childhood girlfriend. She is the co-founder and chair of the non-profit CK12 Foundation. They have four childern.

If there’s a 90% chance of failure, there’s a 10% chance of changing the world.

The post is a part of a B’day Series where we celebrate the birthday of renowned personalities from the Tech Industry, very frequently. The series includes Entrepreneurs, C-level Executives, innovators or renewed leaders who moved the industry with their exponential skill set and vision. The intent is to highlight the person’s achievements and touch base the little known, but interesting, part of his life. You can see the list of all earlier celebrated tech personalities, including Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayor, Sean Parker, Andy Rubin, Julian AssangeSir Richard Branson, Sergey Brin by following this link or subscribe to your daily newsletter.


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