Khosla advises not to copy U.S policies

By siliconindia staff writer   |   Monday, 23 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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HYDERABAD: Vinod Khosla, veteran Valley venture capitalist, was recently holding forth on stem-cell research and India’s powerful potential in it. At an event in Hyderabad, held on Saturday, he underlined the role India could play—unencumbered as it was, from any religious beliefs, unlike those the West held in regard to stem-cells. “The Christianity poses many issues in this space, while India has no religious position in pursuing this research,” said the Forbes-ranked No.2 venture capitalist.

“The government policies should not mimic those of the U.S.,” he argued. “There is a huge benefit to be reaped in our liberal thinking and policies. Why can’t we experiment in therapeutical cloning?”

For a comprehensive coverage of Khosla's tour, read SiliconIndia Magazine.

According to him, pharmaceutical research was going great guns in India, but since companies had to go through multiple levels of approvals, it set them back by a few years before a drug could hit the market. “Shanta Biotech’s hepatitis-B vaccine is several times cheaper than what’s available in the US and has fewer side-effects. Imagine how many lives may have been saved if only the vaccine had hit the market earlier. If we have the right policies, India can attract the best researchers across the world to come and work here,” he said.

He sees nanotechnology, biotechnology, material sciences and energy as hot sectors to watch out for.

Khosla candidly confessed during his visit here to relaunch TiE Hyderabad Chapter that he's not a visionary but a risk-taker. "Only if you are passionate about something, will you be a risk-taker," he says.

Khosla is now passionate about Microcredit, which he believe impacts the lives of millions of disadvantaged in India.

He’s been to Bangladesh to study it, and to Hyderabad to experience how even beggars who received a couple of thousand rupees as microcredit have today built successful businesses of their own and have two-storeyed buildings to stay in. Khosla believes there can be a silent revolution in India, where entrepreneurs can be born from the poorest of poor, where the next generation can join the educated class.

Khosla declined to comment about his new “part-time” status at Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), but he did say that he’d taken a sabbatical once before for two years, hinting that it was indeed true that he wanted to spend more time “doing well by doing good” in India. Spending almost an hour with the man rated as a top venture capitalist by Forbes magazine — courtesy Infinera, a firm KPCB has invested in — can be enlightening.

Some soundbytes: “I don’t believe you can rate VCs. I never agreed with Forbes magazine, and argued with the editors not to use headlines such as ‘Number One VC’, but then I guess they have to sell their magazine.” Further, he added that a lot of the success was pure luck. “In fact, it’s our team that is successful. I don’t take the decision to make an investment all by myself. And let me tell you, John Doerr (another partner in KPCB) has always been better than me,” he said. “In fact, I spend most of my time making mistakes,” Khosla added.

For a comprehensive coverage of Khosla's tour, read SiliconIndia Magazine.

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