Vinod Khosla

@vkhosla

Khosla Ventures’ Companies Making A Difference Right Now

December 29th 2017

Chapter 15 from “Reinventing Societal Infrastructure with Technology” which will be released end of January. I will be posting a new section daily. Please share your feedback as this is a work in progress.

This is a list of some of the Khosla Ventures’ portfolio companies that are making the biggest difference in the world today. I’ve tried to be thorough with my analysis but I may have missed one or two along the way. For that I apologize. That said, all of these companies are the reason I get out of bed in the morning and the reason I believe we are all moving forward.

Health & medicine:

AI & data driven change from “practice of medicine to science of medicine” and specialty by specialty reinvention of the expertise, meaning virtual primary care doctors, cardiologists, psychiatrists, oncologists, is happening in our portfolio. Companies like Alivecor enable personal cardiologist-like functions around ECG like diagnosing atrial fibrillation or reading an ECG for normality, although nothing as forward as a full cardiologist yet and definitely not the interventional cardiologist yet; to partially substitute a therapist like Ginger.io, or perhaps the primary care doctor experience like Forward, or create an AI physician like Curai.

Others impact health by making accessible, population-scale genetics services like Color, or transforming xenotransplantation into an everyday, lifesaving medical procedure with eGenesis. Genalyte is tackling blood testing results and making it easier to get them in almost real-time in the doctor’s office versus a third-party lab. Rethinking Oncology is the domain of Guardant Health or Oncobox, which is personalizing genetic profiling to help oncologists decide which drug to use. Conquering infectious diseases through the innovative use of next-generation sequencing to analyze microbial cell-free DNA is something Karius does, being able to scan for 1,300 viruses simultaneously.

Other companies are using software for hospitals to help doctors and nurses improve key workflows and coordinate a patient’s care through Medisas, or are focused on entirely rebuilding the next-gen health insurance company, like Oscar does. How about anticipating diseases with tools that enable physicians to predict Alzheimer’s disease before the symptoms appear like Neurotrak? For instance, Viome is using predictive biomarkers to your microbiome’s transcriptome and your blood transcriptome at the strain ro RNA level. Using the microbiome, others are creating microbial therapeutics for inflammatory diseases (Siolta) or to target bacteria based on genome (Eligo).

Two Pore Guys is building a digital, hand-held, testing platform for DNA and RNA that’s as accurate as medical lab equipment, but is as inexpensive and easy to use as a blood glucose monitor. Zebra is using AI to rethink most radiologist functions for MRI, CT, x-rays for as little as $1, while Vicarious Surgical is enabling surgeons to do much much more with robots. Heartvista is developing a robust commercial MRI system that will give comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation — real-time data with much less skilled technicians!

Pharmaceuticals:

We believe that there will be AI based reinvention from small molecule chemicals to precise regulation of genes in the pharmaceutical space. Companies are predicting potential drug cures with the use of supercomputers, artificial intelligence, and a specialized algorithm that runs through millions of molecular structures. This can potentially reduce the cost and time involved in making new drug discoveries as our company Atomwise is doing, or combine world-leading expertise in machine learning and genome biology to transform medicine. Such is the case with Deep Genomics who are designing biologicals, or offering low-cost personalized genetic profiling to help cancer doctors decide which drugs will be most effective like Oncobox.

Food & food production:

AI, plant by plant robotics, and new methods to reducing chemicals, and precision agriculture are changing the way we produce and consume food. From reinventing the burger to be all plant-based to end animal husbandry,while at the same time reducing environmental impact, like Impossible Foods to creating a new plant-based egg substitute using science like Hampton Creek. What if you could develop sustainable and nutritious food products by matching the protein, fat, and carbohydrate distribution and content of traditional dairy products with a mixture of the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates from plants like Ripple?

In terms of food production and restaurants, companies are using robotics to make restaurants more efficient, increase food safety, and reallocate funds to higher quality food. On the agricultural process side, imagine using computer vision and robotics to improve agriculture like Blue River (sold to John Deere), who specifically enables farmers to spray herbicides only where weeds are present. Or to make farms more manageable with Granular (sold to Dupont) or climate insurance more accessible with Climate Corporate (sold to Monsanto)? Satellite imaging is allowing farmers to better predict and optimize farming practices like, the services provided by both Rocketlabs and Skybox. Imagine a world where we can use robotics and AI to reduce pesticides, increase efficiency, and create healthier foods — we are only at the beginning.

Financial system:

Large institutional bodies are often the most posed for disruption from financial services, risk & insurance, blockchain and software contracts-based services, efficient exchanges, accessibility, and even legal services. New small business and consumer services like are provided to by Square. Affirm or Fundbox can make larger purchases more accessible without credit risk, while Stripe can make payment processing easier.

Even, as an example, is rethinking insurance and credit for the modern consumer — managing one’s salary, allowing the customer to allocate a small portion per month to an “emergency” amount to be used when a customer may be in a financial bind. Other companies are using blockchain to reimagine aspects of the financial system — for instance, digitizing experimental money to support blockchain to render it more liquid like BlockStream or allowing users to build Bitcoin applications using an enterprise-grade block chain API like Chain. Add adding to liquidity and efficiency are companies like Opendoor which make home selling much easier and faster.

Construction & buildings, Housing:

3D-printing, modular factory built, and housing efficiency are a few areas that have opportunity. Imagine 3D-printing a house, or using manufacturing techniques to create lower cost units like Katera, or using robots to transform a small apartment into what feels like a larger space like Ori. Other companies are using robotics to make kitchens and restaurants more efficient like Spyce, and Momentum is changing city spaces by fully roboticized restaurant kitchens. Arevo, as an example, makes ultra-strong 3D-printed carbon fiber composite materials, while Vicarious is creating robots who can help construct and build, replacing human workers.

Education:

AI & open source reduce need for infrastructure as well as manpower for education. Imagine a platform for academics to share research papers like academia.edu or an online platform that facilitates interaction among students and instructors like Piazza. New platforms from Piazza (college) a and Kiddom for K-12, now used by one in ten of all US teachers, allow for teachers and students to share assignments, provide feedback, grade, and review reports all in one place are enabling more collaboration and better results in education.

Manufacturing:

3Dprinting, robotics, new materials, AI design. Imagine 3D-printing metals like Digital Alloys. Velo3D develops a technology that will disrupt 3D-printing in metals and Arevo that is changing composites manufacturing and affordability. Add robotics technologies like Vicarious, Berkshire Grey and manufacturing, which has been relatively isolated from change is feeling the pressures and innovation.

Transportation:

Imagine rethinking transportation with autonomous cars and ways to help people get where they need to go faster, cheaper, and with less impact on the environment. In the future, we will simply have self-driving cars as part of a fleet of taxis such as Voyage, or perhaps have alternate shorter destination methods of getting around, such as electric skateboards, like Boosted Boards. Hyperloop?

Energy & climate, including water:

Some companies are developing a completely new high-power, long-cycle life, low-cost battery technology for stationary and select transit applications like Natron, or building a flexible solar cell design that minimizes the amount of semiconducting material used like Caelux. There are breakthroughs in energy conversion such as Quantumscape, a company developing the first commercial solid state electrical energy storage devices for automotive applications. Others are trying to develop and commercialize new battery technology or develop stabilization for electric grids like Varentec.

There are companies who are using new techniques and approaches with technology for geothermal energy and Altarock or consuming waste gases form steel and other industrial process to turn that into useful products. Like all great technology, nuclear energy can be used to create new options for converting low-level waste into vast energy sources like Terrapower, while companies like View Glass and Soraa reduce building energy consumption. And, of course, efforts like Breakthrough Energy Ventures have the potential for incubating long-term technologies for decarbonization.

**This is a section from “Reinventing Societal Infrastructure with Technology”. To read the previous section, click here.

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