Vinod Khosla grew up in a middle-class home in India with no business or technology connections. He read about the founding of Intel in Electronic Engineering Times at age 16 and started dreaming of creating his own technology company.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in India, he came to the United States and got his master’s in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His start-up dreams attracted him to Silicon Valley where he got an MBA at Stanford University in 1980.
After graduation from Stanford, Khosla co-founded Daisy Systems, the first significant computer-aided design system for electrical engineers. While working at Daisy Systems, he became frustrated by the limitations of commercially-available computer hardware. When he discovered the SUN workstation, created by Andy Bechtolsheim, he was so impressed he decided to go into business with Bechtolsheim and his friend Scott McNealy. In 1982, Sun Microsystems was born, and in 2010 the company was acquired by Oracle for $7.4 billion.
In 1986, Khosla left Sun Microsystems to join the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a general partner. Over the years, he built a reputation as one of the most influential investors in Silicon Valley. He played an important role in starting and helping companies in multimedia, semiconductors, video games, Internet software and computer networking. He also founded The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a global not-for-profit networking organization that encourages entrepreneurship among college students.
Khosla formed Khosla Ventures in 2004 with family funds and today manages approximately $1 billion of investor capital and one of the largest cleantech portfolios. In 2019, Forbes ranked him 78th on their “Midas List” of top tech investors. He insists he is a “venture assistant,” not a venture capitalist, preferring to focus on assisting entrepreneurs and not on making deals. (The word “deal” is barred at Khosla Ventures.) His current passion is social entrepreneurship with an emphasis on microfinance, education, global housing, alternative energy, petroleum independence, the environment and the space sector. He also supports his wife Neeru Khosla, another immigrant entrepreneur, in her work making textbooks more affordable and accessible through the CK-12 Foundation.