Valley legend Vinod Khosla knows most of the tech industry’s founding fathers first hand. Either he worked with them, competed against them, or later, as a venture capitalist, funded them.He’s also a straight speaker. On Thursday, he received an award from the Churchill Club, a prestigious Silicon Valley institution. Khosla was a cofounder of Sun Microsystems, and was a big-time venture capitalist for Kleiner Perkins before launching his own firm, Khosla Ventures.
Best-selling author Geoffrey Moore asked Khosla how to build magical cofounder relationships like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak or Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates.
Khosla balked at the Valley myth that Jobs and Wozniak were some kind of “perfect duet,” as Moore put it.
“With all due respect that’s a load of crap,” Khosla said. “There was no commonality between Steve and Woz.”
Jobs “carried the vision.” Wozniak, or Woz, as he’s known, is a technologist, Khosla explained.
Similarly, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer wasn’t a great marriage either, Khosla said. Gates was no visionary in the early days.
“I’ve gotten to know him well,” Khosla says of Gates. “Bill was a passionate entrepreneur but not a visionary. Bill has become a real visionary over time. Ballmer is a good manager, although some would disagree because the stock price hasn’t done much in the past few years.”
The upshot: There’s no magical formula for picking your cofounders. The combinations often just look brilliant in hindsight, because their companies are successful.
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