Vinod Khosla Discusses Cleantech
He gave his pronouncements on innovation and his portfolio firms:
- If you’re not afraid of failure, it frees you up to succeed.
- Khosla Ventures’ portfolio firm KiOR started with a call from Belgium during which the caller told him that “everything you’re doing in ethanol is wrong.” Within two weeks they had a signed term sheet. The firm uses an old oil industry process and claims it can make a synthetic version of petroleum out of wood and farm waste. Khosla Ventures owns approximately 50 percent of the company, which is now worth $2 billion, and Khosla Ventures “has made over a $1 billion in profit” across their biofuel portfolio. Khosla offers that fact to those like Peter Thiel who say that cleantech investing is a disaster.
- Only small companies do impressive things, according to Khosla — who challenged the audience to name the significant things that come out of large companies (with the exception of Apple). There’s nothing new out of GE or Siemens or Bosch — the only thing new that comes out of big companies is new packaging for toothpaste, said the VC. “Big companies have process instead of vision,” adding, “Motorola and Nokia are largely irrelevant.”
- Khosla says that he spends more time recruiting for his startup portfolio than on any other function.
- Khosla advises startups to get rid of expert opinion and punditry.
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