Tech billionaire reveals the polite, yet brutal way he responds to underwhelming gifts

Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunchVinod Khosla.
  • Tech billionaire Vinod Khosla has a preferred method for sending an honest thank you note to someone who gives him an underwhelming gift.
  • Khosla instructs his assistant to send a thank you note reading: “Thank you, that was very interesting.”
  • This is part of his philosophy of “brutal honesty,” according to The New York Times.

In an interview with the New York Times about his fight to keep the public away from his private beach, billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla revealed his philosophy on honesty.

His approach was best summed up in an anecdote he gave about responding to underwhelming gifts. Khosla told the Times that he receives a lot of presents, and prefers to be straight, rather than effusive in his replies.

“I ask Ruthie [Khosla’s assistant] to not say, ‘That was wonderful,’ […] If it wasn’t, I have her send a nice note back saying, ‘Thank you, that was very interesting,'” he said.

Khosla subscribes to a philosophy of brutal honesty, the website of Khosla Ventures even bears the maxim “We prefer brutal honesty to hypocritical politeness.”

“Interesting” could be either brutal or polite, depending on how it’s said. Considering that Khosla describes the notes as “nice,” it seems he’s aiming for the latter.

His tech pedigree and iconoclastic pronouncements about investing made Khosla Ventures one of the most closely-watched venture firms in Silicon Valley. His portfolio includes Square and Stripe.

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