|University of Michigan, B.S.|
|Harvard Business School, MBA|
Samir grew up in a family of engineers and doctors. Both his father and uncle were early engineers in a pioneering satellite communications company where Samir worked during his high school and college summer breaks.
However, it became clear during high school that it was biology, rather than engineering, that was his true passion. This led him to attend the University of Michigan, where he majored in biology and taught undergraduate biochemistry. He then continued on to graduate school to study biochemistry at the University of Maryland.
While at Maryland, Samir heard Craig Venter speak about the genomics revolution. Venter’s Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) had recently sequenced the first complete genome (a bacterium frequently associated with influenza infections) in record time using automated, state-of-the-art technology. What would have taken weeks in graduate school now took minutes at TIGR. Venter had also signed a historic deal with SmithKline Beecham to identify the important genes responsible for human disease. Sensing a paradigm shift in the making, Samir joined TIGR to work on the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the mustard family, which was a model organism for understanding agricultural staples such as rice, corn, and wheat. Soon Samir was promoted to run the project both within TIGR and internationally as the chairperson of the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI). Under his direction, the project was completed years before schedule and well under budget, culminating in a historic publication in Nature in December of 2000.
It was once again time for a change, as sequencing a genome was no longer a rare event, so Samir went to Harvard Business School to pursue an MBA. With a strong scientific background and experience running large project teams, this would provide the business training he needed to enter industry.
Upon graduating, he joined Flagship Ventures to start and invest in early-stage biotechnology companies. During his five years there, Samir was involved in starting and investing in a number of companies including Helicos BioSciences (NASDAQ: HLCS), Epitome (acquired by Millipore), Codon Devices, LS9, and Morphotek (acquired by Eisai). Helicos, cofounded with Stan Lapidus and Steve Quake from Stanford, is developing single-molecule sequencing instruments to revolutionize personalized medicine.
As CEO at Codon Devices, Samir raised the Series A financing, built the technical and advisory teams, and booked significant revenues in the company’s first year of operations.
Vinod Khosla was a seed investor in Codon, and it was there that their relationship began. Khosla had been researching ethanol and biorefineries since 2004 and was convinced that this was the next revolution in technology. Samir was soon persuaded and, in early 2006, left Flagship to become a founding general partner at Khosla Ventures, focusing primarily on renewable energy, clean technologies, and life sciences investing. Since joining forces with Khosla, Samir has been a cofounder/founding investor in Calera,Cogenra, CoSkata, Gevo (GEVO), Kior (KIOR), Lanza, Sakti3; he has also led the firm’s investments in Amyris (AMRS), Ausra (acquired by Areva), Draths (acquired by Amyris), PRAJ Industries (BSE:PRAJ), Stion, Transonic Combustion, Segetis, NanoH20, View, and a number of early-stage science projects.
“What I am most proud of are the remarkable people whom I have had the privilege of working with on building these companies,” says Samir. “There is no greater joy in this business than to be surrounded by exceptional people working toward a common goal.”
In his free time, Samir enjoys golf, running, tennis, reading, and traveling. He is an avid sports fan with undying loyalty to the Michigan Wolverines, Washington Redskins, and Boston Red Sox. He can be reached at email@example.com.