Khosla and Condi Rice cozy up over emerging markets

Vinod Khosla’s venture firm Khosla Ventures says it has hired the consulting firm of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, RiceHadleyGates, to help Khosla companies navigate developing markets like China, India and Brazil. Rice already has a relationship with Khosla firms in that she joined the board of Khosla Venture’s biofuel company KiOR back in the Summer of 2011.

Technologies that can provide new types of cleaner and more efficient resources — from energy to food to water — are the underpinnings of the cleantech trend, and the emerging markets could be a massive customers of these technologies. As Khosla has said written recently, he remains committed to cleantech opportunities, and particularly ones that can be cheap enough to be mainstream in “Chindia.”

But it’s not just about cleantech companies, Khosla’s mobile and web firms are looking at ways to expand into developing markets, too. Brazil is undergoing a massive e-commerce boom, while India’s mobile market explodes, and China is emerging as the leading market for a lot of next-gen tech these days. Rice says in a release that she’ll help Khosla companies “navigate the tricky waters of political, policy, and regulatory issues around the world.”

Venture firms have a long history of partnering with high profile former politicians, to help grease the wheels of the regulatory frameworks. Kleiner Perkins has both Al Gore and Colin Powell. Lux Capital brought on R James Woolsey. Khosla also has Tony Blair as an advisor.

Rice is no stranger to working with private companies. Before she was Secretary of State, she sat on Chevron’s board, and is also a director at C3, the carbon software tool backed by Thomas Siebel. While she was Secretary of State, she played a major role in how the U.S. responded to the Kyoto negotiations.