Irene Au

Irene is a Design Partner at Khosla Ventures, where she works with early-, mid-, and late-stage startup CEOs. She is dedicated to raising the value of design and user research within software companies through better methods, practices, processes, leadership, and talent. Through her mentorship of the next generation of designers, she helps companies build an empathetic understanding of user needs which inspires and informs product design and experiences.

Irene has vast experience elevating the strategic importance of design within technology companies, having built and led the user experience and design teams at Google, Yahoo!, and Udacity. She began her career as an interaction designer at Netscape, where she worked on the design of the internet’s first commercial web browser.

Irene is an adjunct lecturer at Stanford University where she teaches product design in the mechanical engineering department. She also serves as a trustee for the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Museum of Design.

She is a frequent author and speaker on design, and creativity and mindfulness practice. Irene authored the definitive O’Reilly book “Design in Venture Capital” and her essays can be found on Medium. She has been featured in Wired, Fast Company, Communication Arts, and on the cover of Mindful magazine.

Irene graduated magna cum laude from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina in Electrical and computer engineering and received her master’s degree from the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering with a focus on human-computer interaction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • 1,612
    Hours of yoga classes taught
  • 35
    Times watched The Cure live in concert
  • AIA
    Award won for home built from the ground up
Bridging Design and Technology (Remake podcast)
Design and the Self: Why We Need Good Design (Above All Human conference)
Adobe MAX keynote