NET WORTH: $2.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Early investor in Google, executive at Netscape and Amazon. Started his own VC firm Sherpalo
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Research, Bay Area Community
OVERVIEW: Ram Shriram and his wife Vijay move their philanthropy through the education-focused Dhanam Foundation. The foundation keeps a low profile and directs millions to a donor-advised fund, making the full scope of the family's giving tough to get a handle on. Shriram is a trustee and major donor to Stanford, and a funder of education nonprofits in India. His wife Vijay Shriram is also heavily involved in Stanford’s early education efforts.
BACKGROUND: Kavitark "Ram" Shriram grew up in India, where he studied at the University of Madras. He started working in tech at Bell-Northern Research and his job eventually brought him to Silicon Valley. In 1994, he became a vice president at Netscape before it sold to AOL. He later became president of Junglee, a search engine that specialized in e-commerce, before it sold to Amazon. Shriram later served as VP of Business Development at Amazon. In 2000, he left Amazon to start his own venture capital firm, Sherpalo, which backs companies like StumbleUpon. Shriram invested a half-million in Page and Brin and is one of their first major investors.
EDUCATION & RESEARCH: One of Shriram’s biggest interests is education. He has been a supporter of Magic Bus, which engages marginalized children in India to mainstream education. He has also backed Roshni, a nonprofit based in Dehli that helps Muslim girls get an education.
Shriram and Vijay are also very involved in education efforts at Stanford, where Shriram is a trustee and from which the couple's daughters graduated. They have funded the Shriram Family Professorship in Science Education and the Shriram Family Fellowship in Science Education, both in the Graduate School of Education. They also have given to The Stanford Fund for Undergraduate Education and other annual funds. They also gave a $57 million donation to Stanford to fund the Shriram Center for Bioengineering & Chemical Engineering.
The couple, via the Dhanam Foundation, donated $1.5 million to the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) to create need-based scholarships for its graduate students. Other grantees have included Americans for Oxford and Level Playing Field Institute. The couple also supports the Sapling Foundation, which owns the TED global conference.
BAY AREA COMMUNITY: The couple also supports local institutions like SF Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Sacred Heart Community Service.
LOOKING FORWARD: Perhaps the Dhanam Foundation's grantmaking will be a bit more accessible in the coming years. For now, expect education to remain a top priority, with continued big gifts to schools with which the family has a personal connection.
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