Khosla Ventures Hires Condoleezza Rice as Adviser

Khosla Ventures, the investment firm led by Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder Vinod Khosla, hired former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s advisory firm to work with its portfolio companies.

Rice, who is now a professor at Stanford University, is being tapped to help Khosla Ventures’ startups deal with political and regulatory risks as they expand overseas, the Menlo Park, California-based firm said today in a statement. Her partners at RiceHadleyGates LLC include former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Khosla Ventures is among a growing crop of venture firms adding to the services it provides for startups as entrepreneurs seek more than just cash and board members. Andreessen Horowitz led the trend, investing in marketing, public relations and recruiting, while also hiring former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as an adviser.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.

Rice, 58, has some experience working with Khosla Ventures companies already. She’s on the board of Kior Inc., a renewable energy company that was started in 2007 as a joint venture between Khosla and BIOeCon, a Dutch company. Kior, based in Pasadena, Texas, sold shares to the public last year.

Rice served as Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. Prior to that, she was National Security Advisor.

Strategic Consulting

With offices in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., RiceHadleyGates describes itself as an international strategic consulting firm. According to its website, the firm helps companies expand in Asia, the Middle East and Americas, providing expertise on national security and foreign policy issues.

Anja Manuel, who worked for the State Department and practiced international law before co-founding RiceHadleyGates, said the firm has helped technology startups understand Internet laws in India and how to partner with universities and ministries in Africa.

“We do a lot of work helping tech firms expand in emerging markets,” Manuel said in an interview.

Neither firm is disclosing the economic terms of the agreement. Samir Kaul, a partner at Khosla Ventures, said RiceHadleyGates is incentivized to help portfolio startups succeed.

Khosla Ventures’ investments include Soraa Inc., a provider of lighting technology, Soladigm Inc., a maker of windows that automatically tint darker in bright sunshine, mobile payments startup Square Inc. and ZocDoc Inc., which runs a website where patients book medical appointments.

The firm raised a $1.05 billion fund in late 2011. Khosla, 57, has said he plans to steer as much as 65 percent of the capital to support businesses developing renewable sources of power, energy-efficiency technology and LED-lighting products.

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