Vinod Khosla: "I'm a Glorified Recruiter" | Summary and Q&A

October 22, 2015
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Vinod Khosla: "I'm a Glorified Recruiter"

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In this video, the speaker discusses various topics related to entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology. He emphasizes the importance of disruption and the challenges faced by entrepreneurs. He also talks about the role of venture capitalists and the advice he gives to startup founders. Additionally, he touches upon the valuation of companies and the significance of having a clear vision. The speaker mentions a wide range of industries, including food, healthcare, financial services, and robotics, and highlights the potential impact of various technologies such as virtual reality, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence.

Questions & Answers

Q: What important principle should entrepreneurs keep in mind when disrupting an industry?

When disrupting an industry, it is crucial to understand that someone will be affected negatively. Revolutions are hard on people, and there will always be opposition to significant and important changes. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to face these challenges and position themselves to navigate through them effectively.

Q: Should entrepreneurs seek investment from venture capitalists (VCs)?

Yes, entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from the right kind of help and advice that VCs can provide. The value of an investor is not just in the money they bring but also in the guidance, support, and access to resources that they offer. Entrepreneurs should focus on finding investors who can provide the necessary expertise and connections to help their startup succeed.

Q: Are companies like Uber and Airbnb overvalued?

It is difficult to determine whether companies are overvalued or not, and such opinions tend to be speculative. The important question for entrepreneurs is not whether the valuation is accurate but how to navigate through uncertain market conditions. Entrepreneurs should ensure that they have enough financial resources and be prepared to adjust their business plans based on the changing landscape.

Q: What is the biggest challenge for portfolio companies in terms of external risks?

Each company faces different challenges, but a common issue among companies is hiring and retaining the right talent. In competitive areas like the Bay Area, attracting top talent can be challenging, and talented individuals often have multiple offers to choose from. Hiring the right people is critical, and entrepreneurs should invest time and effort in recruiting the best team.

Q: What is the best advice the speaker has given to an entrepreneur recently?

The speaker mentions that he often advises entrepreneurs on topics that challenge their existing perspectives. He believes in challenging their thinking and adding elements that compensate for their biases. The best advice he gives varies depending on the entrepreneur and the specific situation, but it typically involves encouraging them to be open to critique and to iterate based on their learnings.

Q: What are the general trends in technology that entrepreneurs and investors should be aware of?

The speaker mentions several emerging technologies that are currently taking center stage, including virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, drones, robotics, machine learning, AI, and genomics. However, he emphasizes that the most impactful trends are hard to predict and often result in surprising successes. Entrepreneurs and investors should focus on their own unique insights and remain adaptable to changing circumstances.

Q: Which area does the speaker believe is currently most interesting in terms of innovation?

The speaker mentions healthcare as an area where there are significant opportunities for innovation. He highlights the potential for improvement in various aspects of healthcare, such as the development of better diagnostic tools, revolutionizing psychiatry through big data, and reinventing how chronic diseases are managed. However, he also mentions that there are interesting advancements in other areas like 3D printing and robotics.

Q: Is genomics the most important aspect of healthcare innovation?

The speaker argues that genomics is just a small part of healthcare innovation. He suggests that other areas like epigenomics, proteomics, and metabolomics are equally, if not more, important. Understanding what is happening in the human body right now is more valuable than just knowing inherited genetic information. He stresses the need to look beyond individual technologies and take a holistic approach to healthcare innovation.

Q: What does the speaker believe is crucial for entrepreneurs to succeed?

The speaker emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision and being committed to it. He advises entrepreneurs to be obstinate about their vision while being flexible in their tactics. Learning from experimentation and iteration is key to success. Luck and timing play a role, but having a strong vision and adapting quickly to market changes are essential for long-term success.

Q: What is an interesting example of the application of robotics and machine vision?

The speaker mentions a company that can read fields using robotics and machine vision. This technology has the potential to eliminate the need for herbicides in agriculture. By being able to read and analyze fields, it may be possible to remove herbicides, which could lead to significant changes in the agriculture industry. This example demonstrates the power of technology to transform an industry by addressing one specific problem.


The speaker highlights the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in disruptive industries and the importance of having a clear vision. He encourages entrepreneurs to seek the right kind of help and advice from investors. The valuation of companies is less important than navigating through uncertain market conditions. Hiring and retaining talent is often a major challenge for startups. In terms of technology trends, he mentions virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, drones, robotics, machine learning, and AI. However, he also discusses interesting opportunities in healthcare, financial services, and other sectors. He advises entrepreneurs to be flexible in their tactics while remaining committed to their vision.

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