It's hard to believe Vinod Khosla can run a venture capital firm with more than $3 billion under management when his brain is full of holes. During an hour of testimony, the billionaire repeatedly said he couldn't recall closing off public access to a popular beach near his property on Half Moon Bay.
Khosla used an arcane 19th century treaty to justify gating off the only public road into Martins Beach. Yesterday's testimony was part of a lawsuit filed by the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit environmental group. (Martins Beach LLC previously tried to quash a subpoena to get Khosla to testify.)
Khosla repeatedly told a San Mateo County Superior Court judge he didn't recall conversations about Martins Beach, and on many occasions invoked attorney-client privilege to avoid answering questions.
"I was dumbfounded at the lack of ability to explain and remember," [Joe Cotchett, Surfrider's attorney] said afterward outside the Redwood City courtroom.
Despite significant difficulty retaining facts, Khosla is cruelly expected to sift through mountains of documents a week. That amount of paperwork made him forget about lawsuits filed to keep the California coastal to himself, reports Forbes:
Each time Khosla did not recall something, it fell neatly in line with his attorneys' argument: that Khosla himself had little oversight over how the land was managed. Even knowing the contents of lawsuits filed on his behalf about the beach was something he does not consider his job, he said.
"I probably get 500 to 1,000 pages of documents like this a week," he added. "I cannot review them all. I'm not trying to be unreasonable, just telling you what my life is like."
Look, he works too hard on detailed documents every week to remember any details. What's so hard to understand?
Why he set up two limited liability corporations to purchase the property.
How much he paid for it.
When he closed the deal and other specific details of the purchase.
When he made the decision to block public access to the beach.
Whether he had ever had conversations about public access before buying the property.
Whether he had read any of the letters or emails sent to him by the courts, politicians, and the public about blocking the beach.
Whether he bought the property with the goal of building a private residence on it.
The last time he had talked to the property's current manager.
Khosla, in a black shirt and black sportcoat, smirked at times during questioning. "If you're asking me why any gate is locked, it's to restrict public access," he said. "That's a general statement about gates."
If you need general gate facts, Khosla's your guy. He could write the Vox explainer on gates, just don't ask him about it afterward.
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