Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Vinod Khosla Says Silicon Valley VCs Tried to Save Newspaper Industry In 1996

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 1, 2009

At the recent SDForum 2009 Visionary Awards, Vinod Khosla, one of Silicon Valley's top VCs, gave an inspiring and very humble speech.

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Afterwards, I went over to congratulate him on his award and also say how much I enjoyed his speech. Rebecca Buckman, one of Forbe's top journalists, was also there. He then started to tell us a very interesting story, about how Silicon Valley VCs could have saved the newspaper industry--back in 1996.

This would be very impressive because this would be before Yahoo, Google -- and way before the Internet was the Internet as we know it today. In those days AOL ruled the online world.

Vinod Khosla tells Rebecca and I about a meeting with the top executives of the ten largest newspaper companies, essentially locking them inside a hotel for an entire day.

He says that he and his colleagues had come up with a way newspqpers could avoid the harmful effects of the Internet on their business mode. But the newspaper executives squabbled over control and the deal went nowhere.

Foremski's Take: Did Mr Khosla and his colleagues have a solution? We would need more information about the proposed business model. But I'd be very surprised if Mr Khosla's business plan for newspapers would have worked -- whatever it was.

The reason I am confident in saying that is that the online world was a totally different place in 1996. We now have dozens of new online revenue streams that didn't exist then, and also we have a tremendous amount of broadband rather than slow dial-up. However, I am curious to find out more about the rescue plan.

Here is the conversation with Vinod Khosla via Flip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79GbNip38HE

http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2009/06/vinod_khosla_to.php

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