Hot Prospects: Alex Kinnier, Khosla Ventures

By Reuters Staff
August 4, 2010

– The following profile is an abbreviated version of Venture Capital Journal contributor Deborah Gage’s piece for the the VCJ’s series on “Hot Prospects” within the venture capital industry. –

At age 33, Alex Kinnier was rising quickly through the ranks at Google, but he didn’t feel fulfilled. The chemical engineer wanted to help the world with clean technologies. A phone call with popular venture capitalist Vinod Khosla that lasted several hours put him on the path to happiness.

Kinnier took a pay cut to join Khosla Ventures, but he was thrilled to be back in the cleantech arena. When he got the urge to leave to start a company, Khosla talked him into staying and becoming a venture capitalist.

“I judge people on the way they think – most people in investment react to investments, and (Kinnier) can think clearly about what’s important,” Khosla said. “Every situation is different—the risks are different, the strategy is different, so much is different. I don’t want a reaction based on experience or bias. I want someone who can think things through, and he’s really good at that.”

Kinnier’s investments include Pellion Technologies, which is working on a next-generation battery; Recapping, which is developing a high-density energy storage device; Solum, which provides data to farmers about soil nutrient levels and advises how much fertilizer to apply; Reluceo, a developer of bio-based materials; and Skybox, which is building low-cost satellites.

Kinnier considers himself lucky to be a venture capitalist. “Every single day, the smartest, most passionate people who have spent weeks or months or years preparing for this, share their greatest ideas, and no matter how dumb my question is, they can answer it,” he said. “I can’t think of anything better than to get to learn and be around people this passionate and smart.”

QUICK FACTS

Name: Alex Kinnier

Occupation: Partner, Khosla Ventures

Age: 35

Education: BS, Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University, 1998; MBA, Harvard Business School, 2004

Work experience: Brand Manager and Product Developer, Procter & Gamble, 1997-2002; Founder, cleantech company Ocular Technologies, 2002-04; Group Product Manager, Google, 2005-08; Partner, Khosla Ventures, 2008 to present.

Investments: Pellion Technologies, to develop a next-generation battery; Recapping, to develop a high-density energy storage device; Solum, to provide data to farmers on how much fertilizer they should apply; Reluceo, to develop green, bio-based materials; Skybox, to develop new, lower cost satellites

Mentors: Vinod Khosla and Pierre Lamond

Twitter handle: None

Why he became a VC: “To build game-changing companies.”

Source: VCJ reporting

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