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February 04, 2005

More "Ram Shriramayanam"

This time courtersy Business 2.0:
Google's outsize success fixed a giant halo above Shriram's 48-year-old head. And it helped gain him entrée into two of the most-hyped startups of the Web 2.0 generation: Friendster and Plaxo...

...As a result of his work at Google, Shriram emerged from the company's IPO with more shares than any other solo investor -- 5.1 million, to be precise, for which he paid pennies apiece. At the time of this writing, Google's stock was trading at $196. You do the math...

...In Silicon Valley, where people usually succeed because of who they know or what they know but rarely because of both, Shriram's combination of expertise and connections makes him a scarce commodity. But equally important, I think, is the narrowness of his focus. Unlike VCs, who tend to think they know something about everything and therefore can dabble in anything, Shriram works only with startups, he says, "in market spaces where I have fairly deep domain knowledge -- consumer Internet services and software." Also unlike VCs, who are compelled by the scale of their funds to spread themselves thin across many investments, Shriram is never active in more than three or four startups at once, all based in the Valley...

...The final element of Shriram's formula is relentless independence. "My only loyalty is to what's best for business, not to any set of constituents," he tells me. "Sometimes that means going against the founders, sometimes against the VCs. So my judgments may be wrong, but they won't be biased judgments."

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.