Khosla Ventures

About: Khosla Ventures offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. The firm helps entrepreneurs extend the potential of their ideas in both traditional venture areas like the Internet, computing, mobile, and silicon technology arenas but also supports breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas such as bio–refineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, battery and other environmentally friendly technologies. Based in Menlo Park.

Key Personnel:
Vinod Khosla, Founder and Partner
David Wieden, Partner
Samir Kaul, Partner
Ford Tamer, Operating Partner
Alex Kinnier, Partner
Pierre Lamond, Partner

Renewable Portfolio – Stion, Ausra, Infinia, PVT, AltaRock, GreatPoint Energy, Sakti3, Firefly, Ramu, Seeo, Kaai, Soraa, Lumenz, Topanga, GIV, Gridshift, PAX Streamline, EcoMotors, Transonic, Tula, Hybradrive, Amyris Biotechnologies, LS9, Gevo, KiOR, Mascoma, Range, Coskata, Lanza, Cilion, Draths, Segetis, Soladigm, Calera, NanoH2O, Nanostellar, Codon.

News: A Forbes article on 20 July 2009 reported that Vinod Khosla is near to closing $1 billion in new funds. He is on the verge of announcing 2 new funds with money from outside investors: $250m vehicle for seed-stage investments and a $750m fund called “KVIII” for larger deals. California pension giant CalPERS said several months ago it had committed $200m to a new Khosla fund. Khosla reportedly wants to use some of the $750m fund for “follow-on” investments in his existing portfolio but to allay the concerns of some investors, Khosla would set up a “conflicts committee” to review “follow-on” investments that didn’t have outside lead investor. Company with another lead investor wouldn’t be reviewed because they’d already been endorsed by another VC firm, not just Khosla. (see Cello fraud case earlier here).

Vinod Khosla was formerly a General Partner at Kleiner Perkins and founder of Sun Microsystems. Vinod has been labeled the #1 VC by Forbes and Fortune recently labeled him as one the nation’s most influential ethanol advocates, noting “there are venture capitalists, and there’s Vinod Khosla.” Vinod Khosla founded the firm in 2004 and was joined by partners David Weiden and Samir Kaul, as well as chief scientific officer Doug Cameron in 2006. Doug Cameron left Khosla in 2008 to join Piper Jaffray as managing director and chief science advisor and will work with the firm’s industry-leading clean technology and renewable energy investment banking team in the origination and diligence of global opportunities.

Khosla has recruited Pierre Lamond in March 2009 after retiring from VC firm Sequoia Capital where he worked for the past 27 years. Khosla said that Sequoia is one of Khosla Ventures’ most frequent co-investors. Lamond, founder of National Semiconductor, will focus on investing in clean technology companies, which produce environmentally friendly technologies, as well as more traditional high-tech companies. In the article, it stated that “Khosla Ventures appears to be raising its first fund with institutional investors; the California Public Employees’ Retirement System recently disclosed it would commit money to the fund. Khosla declined to comment on a fund. Up till now, Khosla Ventures had only invested the money of its partners.” Comment: Khosla has been very active in the cleantech space, is the statement true that “Khosla Ventures had only invested the money of its partners”? That’s awful lot of money!

Note: Khosla’s press releases on the website are very outdated, the last was in 2006 (I’m not sure why this tech-savvy firm do not update their press releases). To find out their latest investments, you probably need to look at other sources, eg Cleantech Group:
1H09 investments:
Ausra, Cello Energy, HCL Clean tech, Transonic Combustion (4 deals)
2008 investments:
Ausra (2), Coskata (2), AltaRock Energy, NanoH2O, Neersorb, Amyris Biotechnologies, EcoMotors, Firefly Energy, Gevo, Range Fuels (2), Sakti3, Codon Devices, Infinia Corp, Lumenz, Mascoma, PAX Streamline, SJS Technology, Transonic Combustion (21 deals, the most deals of the year 2008)

See a video by Vinod Khosla at Google here or on vodpod.