Khosla's stint with Sun was the shortest of the original founders. After helping establish the company with fellow grad students McNealy and Bechtolsheim in 1982, Khosla served briefly as CEO and then left the company in 1985 to join venture firm Kleiner Perkins. As a general partner at Kleiner Perkins and through his own Khosla Ventures, Khosla has thrown his chips into more than one Silicon Valley pot. He's scored big with companies such as Cerent and Juniper Networks, and fallen short with the likes of Excite@home.
In an e-mail exchange with InfoWorld, Khosla recalled the heart-stopping excitement of the early years at Sun as it struggled with financing obstacles, technical problems, and the threat of losing marquis customers likes such as CAD/CAM giant Computervision.
These days, Khosla tries to spend half his time on "traditional venture" and the other half on his new passion: green technology. Khosla was a strong backer of California's recent Proposition 87, which would have funded clean energy initiatives in the state. He's also a backer of research on ethanol to replace the United States' dependence on foreign oil. "My goal is to make green technologies cheaper than their fossil alternatives so they can scale beyond toys to actually making a big dent in fossil energy," Khosla wrote.
Beyond clean energy, Khosla and his venture capital firm fund a nonprofit trust that backs work in areas such as microfinance, education, health, and affordable housing.
As for the company he helped found 25 years ago? "Sun has plenty of strategies through which it could emerge as a powerhouse again," Khosla said.
-- Paul Roberts
Bill Joy: Thinking big about the future
Bill Joy had earned his spot in the computer hall of fame even before he helped found Sun in 1982. While working as a graduate student at UC Berkeley in the late 1970s, Joy is credited with creating and disseminating the first Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) of the Unix operating system, and adding the TCP/IP stack to Unix, an act which earned him the sobriquet "father of the Internet."
After helping to found Sun Microsystems in 1982, Bill Joy remained with the company until 2003, during which time he is credited with contributing to the creation of Java, Jini (aka Java Workspaces), and Sun's network file system (NFS). Joy even played a key role in designing the architecture for Sun's Sparc processors and the Solaris operating system.
Since leaving Sun in 2003, Joy has focused his energies on the venture capital space, forming HighBar Ventures before joining Kleiner Perkins in 2005.
While most of Joy's creativity has been focused on creating a better infrastructure for computing systems, he has also of late broadened those interests. In 2006 Joy helped start a multi-million dollar fund to design a more holistic approach to defend against biological viruses.
And for a man who it is said never even owned a rowboat, Joy is now building, according to Money Magazine, a $50 million high tech "green" yacht. The 190-foot wind-powered ship, the Ethereal, will be as green as Joy and his design team can make it, using among other things light-emitting diodes instead of incandescent light bulbs, a lithium-ion battery system to control fluctuations in electrical current, and propellers powered by diesel and electric motors in case the wind is out of the sails.
-- Ephraim Schwartz