Keith Rabois

Entrepreneur, Investor and Partner at Khosla Ventures

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 21, 2015


Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
Hi. I’m Keith Rabois. I’m an entrepreneur and investor. I'm a general partner at Khosla Ventures. I also co-founded Opendoor, an online marketplace to help people instantly buy and sell their homes. I’ve worked at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide and Square, and I’ve invested in Teespring, Stripe, Palantir, AirBnB, YouTube and Yammer, among many others. I spend most of my time advising entrepreneurs on how to build businesses and have strong opinions about Stanford football. I started out as a lawyer but don’t recommend it. Ask me anything!
Chris Olson@topherolson · Replicated
Hey Keith! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the future of Artificial Intelligence. In a sense all companies tech will probably be leveraging A.I. in some fashion, but any interesting things you are seeing in the space? Thanks!
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@topherolson I am a bit skeptical of AI for now. At least for a VC to invest.
Phil Nguyen@p_ngu · The Daily Water Cooler + Vettery
Thanks for taking the time, @rabois. Love following you on Twitter and the fresh views you provide. What would you say is the most controversial tech-related belief you have right now that many people would disagree with?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@p_ngu a) companies should IPO as soon as possible (less controversial now); b) machine learning startups are almost always a bad idea, c) the funding market for series A and Series B is radically different than even 6 months ago.
Phil Nguyen@p_ngu · The Daily Water Cooler + Vettery
@rabois Great answers, thank you. Would love some additional thoughts on the machine learning comment if you have some time!
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of
@rabois Thanks for doing this ama Keith! What are the most clever, but less talked about growth hypotheses you've seen? LinkedIn did viral growth really well through email invites, PayPal had that bot that asked to pay on eBay through PayPal and created a high demand, and reddit seeded the community and then grew through the community. Curious to see what else you've seen done well, especially ones that don't have obvious network effects
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@sydney_liu_sl I gave a full presentation on growth strategies at a Growth Conference Keynote in 2013. As a general matter, companies need to create a growth strategy that is innate to their value proposition, not copy another one from a successful company. (FYI SEO can be solid too for some companies, worked for yelp, LinkedIn). If the presentation is challenging to locate, I could repost it.
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of
@rabois @sydney_liu_sl Thanks Keith!! Can't find the video, but here's the notes: super insightful. Thanks for sharing
Daniel.@danielrakh · Product Designer | iOS Developer
You've said numerous times that your unique skill is finding people who are not known but have the potential to be really great at their job. What's the best way those people can stand out to be noticed by people like you?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@danielrakh Tweet. I have offered jobs to people solely based upon the caliber of their tweets. But fundamentally the key skill to succeed is not tweeting.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
1) There's a big obsession/bias with being a founder as opposed to an employee. Is that warranted? What frameworks should people use when deciding between the two, and is there a certain archetype that should be a founder vs early employee / founding team member? 2) How's your 3 point shot?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@eriktorenberg Companies are built by a team, not a single person. We use the expression "the team you build is the company you build." People often over-value founders and under-value the key leaders in a company. A football coach is a solid metaphor. He adds a ton of value, but the players make the plays.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What one piece of advice would you give the 16/18/25 year old self?
Brian Shultz@brianlshultz
What uncommon traits or habits do you think are most important for jr level VCs?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@brianlshultz either a differentiated network, which is rare, or differentiated insight, which is extraordinarily rare.
Kasperi Apell@kasperiapell
Hello, Keith! Thanks for taking the time to do this. Do you have any systems or strategies to minimize office politics in a company?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@kasperiapell radical transparency works best. provide everyone access to (virtually) all information. send meeting notes from every single meeting to the whole company, use Slack instead of email, full dashboards, share the entire Board deck with the entire company, etc.
Anthony Cafaro@anthonycafaro · Designer, NYC
@rabois Who do you got in the Cowboys-Giants game this weekend? ;P
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@anthonycafaro well, if Tony were playing this would be easy. Without him and Dez, I am nervous.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
@rabois was switching careers that is moving from lawyer to tech world difficult for you? How do you recommend people from different industry make that jump into tech world?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@neeeharika Fortunately, my first tech manager, Geoff Donaker was able to teach me a massive amount very quickly, with the exception of building elegant spreadsheets. But the biggest challenge is lawyers are trained, literally, to spot risks whereas entrepreneurs and investors need a wholly different mentality. I used to hate it when people could guess I was an ex-lawyer in meetings. But at some point, I shifted from conservative to risk-embracing and people became shocked to learn that I had practiced law. When I visit Judicata, they challenge me with Bar Review questions, fortunately, I am still a perfect 9-9.
Nick Creegan@njcreegan
Hi Keith, thanks for doing this. You once said that "if you go to Google, you are going to waste your brain" by being on the sidelines. What advice would you give a young professional interested in the innovation space? How do you balance between an environment structured enough to nurture growth and one flexible enough to provide hands-on experience?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@njcreegan Read Stefan Cohen's post on that topic. I recommend choosing based upon the quality of your manager. I posted a longer explanation on Quora a few years ago. Definitely select a high growth company.
Hi Keith, what has been the biggest challenge with OpenDoor?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@itstima prioritization. the team has so many excellent ideas and there are so many parts of the buying and selling process of homes that need improvement. And we have an infinite thirst for more data scientists.
Yezin Al-Qaysi@yalqaysi · CEO at Urban Hygienics
@rabois we're already seeing startups changing the way we live in cities (Uber, MakeSpace, ClassPass and Breather) - what are the biggest ideas you think will impact the way we live in our future cities?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@yalqaysi driverless cars will have massive impact, but everyone already knows this by now.
Nick Creegan@njcreegan
What types of expertise do you think are essential for non-technical founders?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@njcreegan Design. Then customer acquisition is the most valuable, albeit rare,
mike lin@mikelinsf · Founder & CEO, influencersTV
@rabois What's the best investment you've ever made? Oh, and we overlapped at LinkedIn!
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@mikelinsf best (in terms of most rewarding) were the ones where I was basically the first one to really love what the company was doing, namely YouTube, Airbnb, Wish, udemy.
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @rabois thanks so much for joining us today. I would love to hear, you have worked at titans like Paypal, Linkedin, Twitter and Slide so what are the commonalities of these incredible companies you have been involved with and where did you feel most engaged and love your work? P.S. Always welcome on @twentyminutevc would love to delve deeper!
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@harrystebbings each of these companies was quite distinct. the only common denominator was the caliber of the founder(s). each startup is almost as distinctive as a human being, with their own custom brew of culture, cult and strategy.
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@rabois what's the most common mistake entrepreneurs make when they're just starting out?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@russfrushtick reading blogs. read books instead. understand customer acquisition asap, don't delegate it.
Nick Creegan@njcreegan
@rabois What books or movies would you recommend?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@njcreegan @russfrushtick see my post on Medium for reading. I should probably create a movie one too. Love Devil Wears Prada. People find it really easy to work with me after that movie frames it.
Geoffrey Weg@geoffreyweg · Betaworks, TechStars, White House
@rabois @russfrushtick Thanks for sharing your favorites on Medium. Which are your top 2-5?
John Reynolds@reynolds_wrap · director
Hello Keith.. For new biz/startup, what is the minimum level of traction needed in order to take a meeting? If there's a private beta 100s of user or would you want to see public product & customers first before we have a sit down?
Keith Rabois@rabois · Partner, Khosla Ventures
@reynolds_wrap there is no minimum level. varies by caliber of team, quality of insight in the deck. often take meetings for products before launch.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@rabois Hey - what is the craziest thing you've seen in a pitch?