Ram Shriram’s Pointers

SiliconBeat writes about the takeaways from a talk given by Ram Shriram, the angel investor who counseled Googles founders during the earliest days:

–Success is pretty much a crap-shoot; there are too many unknown facts in a companys early life to make all the right decisions. But good, quick judgment calls on multiple fronts helps multiply the chances of beating the odds.

–Not even the wise man can see it coming: I had no premonition of the things to come, Shiram said, about meeting the founders in 1998 for the first time at the office of Stanford professor Jeff Ullman, when he firsted tested their search engine. For two months, he didnt think anything more about it, until they called him.

–Its the people, stupid. Shriram helped co-founders Larry Page and Serge Brin in the Menlo Park garage by consulting his Rams Book of Mistakes, which he said he started eight or nine years ago to help remind him of all the bad decisions hed made. Bad hiring decisions are the most fatal.

— Its all in the grooming. Shriram set out to made sure Page & Brin hired only the very best, or A people. He cited the well-known Silicon Valley tenet: Hire only A people, and theyll hire other A people. If you hire the B person, theyll hire C or D people. Someone asked a good question: How did Shriram decide who are a so-called A people? Grooming is a part of it. I try to find out who their mothers are, he said. If they are raised well, theyre more likely to make good citizens, employees and entrepreneurs.

–The trick is small engineering teams. Bite-sized engineering projects, as Shriram calls them, where you can know and measure each persons output on a project. That allows you to remain innovative and to launch and scrap projects quickly.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.