Indian-born venture capitalist Vinod Khosla faced heavy criticism and ridicule on Twitter on Saturday for expressing scepticism about US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s understanding of economics. Khosla had replied to a tweet by a fellow Non-Resident Indian, journalist Anand Giridharadas, who had written in support of Ocasio-Cortez.

The newly elected Democratic Congresswoman has been in the news for her suggestion that the rich be taxed a lot more. Responding to Giridharadas’s support for her position, Khosla said: “That is assuming she understands basic economics, actual humans and technology. I doubt if any of those are true.”

In reply, Giridharadas told Khosla that Ocasio-Cortez had a degree in economics. “She just courted and won the votes of a great many humans and seems to inspire millions of others,” he said. “And she won a prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. So this sounds like it’s your issue, not hers.”

Users were quick to comment about the sexism of Khosla’s remark and many even linked it to his decade-long unsuccessful fight to privatise a beach in California and make it his own. “Don’t you have a beach to steal,” asked one. Some suggested he was just afraid of higher taxes.

A user said it was “some serious disruption” – a play on typical entrepreneurial jargon – given that Khosla had been “able to somehow, some way, transpose this tweet from the cave wall on which you wrote it in 4000 BCE to this website”. An Indian user jumped in with an IIT reference to the sexism: “IIT bro will be IIT bro.” Khosla is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

Another commenter found a link to a news article from 2017, in which Khosla was quoted as saying that gender discrimination was rarer among venture capitalists than in other industries. Some wondered how Khosla could doubt an economics graduate from Boston University.

Amidst all the ridicule, some users also caught on to the phrase “actual humans” – what is one, some asked, and another wondered if the opposite of an actual human was Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant device.