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Martch 10, 2006


Shriram Stresses the Importance of Humility, Patience and Trust to Over 60 Venture Capitalists at Recent Early Stage Venture Capital Alliance (ESVCA) Event

March 10, 2006 Palo Alto, CA: Participants of the Early Stage Venture Capital Alliance (ESVCA) convened on March 7th at the newly opened Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto to listen and learn from “mentor capitalist” Ram Shriram as he discussed the importance of nurturing and growing early-stage companies. Shriram has played a central role in three of the high tech industry’s most influential companies, serving as a senior sales executive at Netscape, a vice president for business development at Amazon.com following its acquisition of Junglee – an online comparison shipping firm where Shriram was president – and a founding board member of and investor in Google. During the ESVCA event, Shriram was interviewed by Fortune Magazine senior writer Adam Lashinsky, who covers high tech and finance and is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio’s Marketplace and contributor to several other national publications, including The New York Times, Business 2.0 and Wired. ESVCA Chairman Vincent Occhipinti, co-founder and managing director at Redwood Shores-based venture capital firm Woodside Fund, served as host for the event and introduced the two speakers. Over 60 Silicon Valley venture capitalists attended the reception.

During the course of the event, several ideas emerged from the “fireside chat,” including discussion of the new ‘Internet bubble’ and why Shriram dislikes the term ‘angel investor.’ When Lashinsky asked Shriram if he would “share a page from his mistake book,” Shriram replied “I wish that I had kept a personal diary from day one of my career.” Instead, he started documenting a history of follies and lessons learned in the late 1990’s with special attention on management issues, negotiations and interactions with fellow colleagues and entrepreneurs. He added that this habit was “not intended to correct personality flaws or change behavior but rather serve as a useful guide to running a business and learn from others which inevitably will make you a better person.”

Shriram also discussed the importance of creating the “right DNA” for a young growth company with a focus on revenue, acquiring customers and profitability. When asked what makes a good VC, Shriram quickly replied, “Courage. Lots of it. And of course, the key to a successful early-stage investor is not to do a ton of investments in which you are spread too thin.”

Shriram also shared the following advice on his formula for growing successful early-stage companies:

  • Invest in first-time entrepreneurs: “They tend to be hungrier compared to serial entrepreneurs and are always willing to listen.”
  • Invest in fundamentals: “Make sure that the entrepreneur has deep knowledge in their particular domain and that they have a high standard of work ethics.”
  • Exercise sound judgment and show leadership: “Make those tough decisions and make them early, even if you don’t have all of the facts.”
  • Be humble: “When you exercise this trait as an investor, you build a trusting partnership that is open, transparent and unambiguous.”
  • Never self promote: “Publicity can be a double-edged sword. I don’t feel that there is a particular need to be out there because I need to stay focused on helping young companies.”

Shriram concluded the one hour conversation by emphasizing that “people come first, the market comes second,” and stressed that the “true art of mentoring is not only the importance of building honest relationships and ensuring a solid company DNA but to constantly listen and nurture the team to ensure that intelligent decisions can and will be executed.” When Lashinksy asked “What if someone in this room wants to partner with you?” Shriram responded that he’s “looking for people who can truly help by adding value, who can work well together,” and especially who are “patient investors.”

ESVCA is a community of more than 150 leading early-stage venture capitalists across the country that convenes regularly to share common challenges and practices and share information on critical aspects of the venture capital business. The group maintains a strictly confidential atmosphere which allows venture capital managing directors to exchange ideas without restraint and share frank observations and insights on topics currently facing the venture capital industry. The ESVCA chairman for the past 17 years, Vincent Occhipinti, co-founder and managing director of Woodside Fund, commented that “the dialogue between Ram and Adam was very valuable for the attendees, allowing audience members to learn from a remarkably successful entrepreneur and investor. The discussion also inspires early stage investors to lead through moral judgment and experience. It is rewarding to know that the longstanding traits of success still apply: humility, patience and trust.”

About Woodside Fund
Woodside Fund is a leading venture capital firm that excels in developing early-stage technology companies. Founded in 1983, Woodside Fund attributes its long record of success to the high value it places on building productive partnerships with entrepreneurs, other investors and service providers. Typically a lead investor, Woodside Fund invests from $5 million to $10 million in early-stage software, fabless semiconductor and network infrastructure companies located primarily on the West Coast. Woodside Fund has more than $330 million in capital under active management. For more information, go to www.woodsidefund.com.

About the Early Stage Venture Capital Alliance (ESVCA)
Founded in 1988, ESVCA is a community of more than 150 early stage venture capitalists who gather together to share common challenges, practices and information on their ever-evolving business environment. While the venture community had plenty of CEO forums and conferences, none existed for early stage venture capitalists. The original idea of ESVCA was to create an exclusive atmosphere where managing partners of early stage venture capital firms could exchange candid observations and information on the most sensitive topics facing the industry. Today the ESVCA strictly maintains the same atmosphere that fosters effective communication among its members and is committed to promoting shared and secure information between the most critical resources to today's sophisticated early stage ventures.


For all press related questions or comments, please contact Carole Sinclair at caroles@woodsidefund.com
or phone 925.818.1038.






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