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Google Guru

For those familiar with the workings of Google, the name Ram Shriram -- one of its founding directors -- is an old one. A graduate of the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, Shriram has always been receptive to good business ideas and has backed them to the hilt. When he invested in Google in its early days, in 1998 -- at a time when few had heard of either the company or the concept behind it -- Shriram could obviously see something most others didn't.

He helped Google's co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page by consulting his Ram's Book of Mistakes, which he said he created to remind himself of bad decisions he had made in the past.
Photo: Duncan Davidson
Yet, he dislikes being described as an angel investor and prefers, instead, to think of himself as a guide for budding entrepreneurs as they scale the industry’s peaks. Little wonder he named his company Sherpalo -- after sherpas, the local people of Nepal who guide mountaineers to Himalayan heights -- launched in 2000 to apply his wealth of company building experience to promising ventures.

As a technology industry insider for over 25 years, Shriram has worked in companies, large and small, across all functional areas and through fluctuating business cycles.

'He is always eager to roll up his sleeves and work closely with founding teams on the challenging issues that confront and sometimes confound early stage ventures,' Google says about him. Recognition of his skill and foresight arrived when he was named one of the top three dealmakers in high-tech by Forbes magazine in 2005.

'In the brief history of the commercial Web,' noted, 'few people have stormed those summits more often while attracting so, little notice. As Shriram's resume attests, he has played a central role in no fewer than three of the Internet's seminal firms: Netscape, where he was a senior sales executive from 1994 to 1998;, where he served as VP for business development after helming the online comparison-shopping startup Junglee and selling it to Jeff Bezos's outfit; and Google, where he first tried his hand as a 'mentor capitalist', advising Larry Page and Sergey Brin during the company's salad days, earning a spot on its board of directors -- and making a fortune in the process.'

Who will he decide to back next?