Kara Swisher

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Khosla Ventures Brings In Condoleezza Rice’s Firm for Strategic Role


In yet another instance of a Silicon Valley venture firm bringing in big government guns to class up the place, Khosla Ventures said that it had signed the international consulting firm run by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “bring global and domestic insight to Khosla’s portfolio companies, helping them achieve their strategic goals in industries such as technology, energy, security and healthcare.”

In other words, strategery plus!

That will presumably be provided by Rice and her partners at RiceHadleyGates, which has offices in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., in an undisclosed financial arrangement with Khosla. RiceHadleyGates also includes former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former State Department official Anja Manuel.

In an interview yesterday, Manuel said that the goal was to help in areas that VCs might not be as familiar with, from Internet freedom laws in India to the challenges of moving into emerging markets.

“There are a lot of policy issues that entrepreneurs will be facing and we will try to be helpful as they sort through them,” she said. “We love working with innovative companies and want to make their global experience better.”

Khosla partner Samir Kaul said the firm was still figuring out how they will work together, but that Rice’s team would serve as “strategic advisers on an as needed basis.”

“What [RiceHadleyGates] does fits in very well with a lot of our themes as investors in energy and security, for example,” said Kaul. “We want to offer the companies we invest in as much help as possible and this is a real win in that regard.”

It’s certainly a high-profile move, although Khosla has done this before, signing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on as a strategic adviser in 2010.

In addition, Andreessen Horowitz brought in former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, as well as former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, to lend its portfolio companies additional expertise.

Rice’s firm certainly has a lot of that, especially related to thorny international issues. Rice, who was once the provost at Stanford University, was also the National Security Adviser in the administration of former President George W. Bush, before moving to the State Department.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”