Billionaire investor Vinod Khosla: IBM and Dell haven't had 'one new idea over the last 30 years'

Vinod Khosla, former Sun Microsystems founder and the billionaire founder of famed Silicon Valley venture firm Khosla Ventures, was instrumental in the rise of what we now think of as the computer server.

But in Khosla’s estimation, the mainstream IT industry’s been coasting ever since, h said on stage at the Structure conference in San Francisco.

Speaking of Dell, EMC, and IBM, he said, “They have not introduced what I consider one new idea over the last 30 years….Mostly they have spent their last few years engineering financials.”

While the recent blockbuster merger of EMC and Dell made perfect financial sense, it’s really all about the balance sheet, he believes, not delivering on any big technology change.

“It will set back innovation and distract from innovation,” Khosla says of the EMC/Dell deal.

It’s why new-wave technology companies like Amazon and Google had to build their own internal IT platforms, architectures, and even servers themselves, Khosla says — “the old ones were so inefficient for their class of loads.”

“If you look at it, nobody’s innovated since [the eighties]. That architecture ran out of steam around 2000 to 2005,” Khosla says.

He says Microsoft has done a “reasonable job” of pivoting towards the cloud, proving that legacy vendors can remain relevant if they work at it. But he’s concerned that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and that Microsoft’s recent success in the cloud could be more marketing than reality, and thusly short-lived.

Michael dell joe tucci emcDellEMC CEO Joe Tucci (left) shakes hands with Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell (right)

“If they apply old models, they will fail,” Khosla says of Microsoft.

Even mega-hot technology like the data-crunching Apache Hadoop makes Khosla nervous he says: It was invented by Yahoo in 2005, to make better use out of its existing server architecture.

“But to try to think of that in this day and age makes me shiver,” Khosla says.

In other words, technologies like Hadoop exist to help companies get more out of their legacy hardware and software. But Khosla’s looking for the next step.

“I suspect there’s a much better architecture out there,” Khosla says.

Meanwhile, he says there’s a tremendous opportunity for those startups that can follow the example set by Google and Amazon and come up with the real next step in computing systems.

So what is Khosla looking for when he invests? “Who’s inventing the future that’s dramatically changes the world.”

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

NOW WATCH: Hillary Clinton apologizes for her use of a private email server

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.