Khosla Ventures adds two women to investment team — Kristina Simmons and Kanu Gulati

Key Points
  • Kristina Simmons and Kanu Gulati join the investment team at Khosla Ventures.
  • Khosla made early investments in Yammer, Climate Corp., Square, Nutanix and Instacart.
  • Only 7 percent of partners at top investment firms are women, according to Crunchbase research.

Venture capital firm Khosla Ventures has added two women to its investment team, hiring Kristina Simmons as chief of staff and Kanu Gulati as principal in recent months, the investors confirmed.

Both joined Khosla Ventures at a time when tech companies and venture firms are facing strong criticism for their overall exclusion and treatment of women.

Simmons, who previously worked at Lululemon Athletica, Juicero and Andreessen Horowitz, said Khosla was appealing in part because of its willingness to "back and hire people from all different backgrounds."

The firm "has invested in 12 women who are CEOs that I know of," she said. "The portfolio has a real breadth. We are in everything from burgers to rockets and health care."

Partners at the firm, she noted, come from different ethnic backgrounds and age groups. However, the fund's eight partners are still all men. Women accounted for only 7 percent of partners at top investment firms last year, according to Crunchbase data.

In her role as chief of staff, Simmons said she will be working directly with founder Vinod Khosla, evaluating start-ups for potential investments and advising portfolio companies.

Khosla has about $5 billion in assets under management. The firm operates a main fund to back rapidly growing tech companies and a seed fund for very early-stage start-ups. Its current portfolio includes payment tech venture Stripe, food science start-up Impossible Burger and real estate site OpenDoor.

Gulati, who is joining as principal, said she was drawn to venture capital after attaining a Ph.D. in computer engineering at Texas A&M and working at Intel. Part of her role there was to conduct due diligence reviews of emerging technologies and start-ups.

"I could see that great tech alone does not build a healthy company," she said. She later attained an MBA at Harvard and worked at Zetta Venture Partners.

Gulati said she will look to invest in companies working on "data and AI-enabled systems for the enterprise." She is specifically interested in technology within the retail supply chain.

Since its founding in 2004, Khosla has invested in such enterprises as Yammer, the workplace collaboration platform acquired by Microsoft for over $1 billion, and agriculture-tech firm Climate Corp., which was acquired by Monsanto for about $1 billion. Khosla also backed enterprise tech companies Okta and Nutanix, which are now publicly traded.