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Social Networking Without Boundaries : hi5 CEO Ramu Yalamanchi (Part 1)

Posted on Saturday, Jun 7th 2008

Ramu Yalamanchi runs hi5, one of the leading social networking companies in the world. The company is recognized as one of the fastest growing social networking companies. Here I discuss the strategy behind hi5 with Ramu and gain some of his insights for the future.

SM: Ramu, let’s start by discussing where you come from and some of your history.

RY: I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago. My dad has been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. He is an in industrial engineer by training, and he probably worked until the time I was ten. He was always dabbling in different types of businesses. He used to have an auto shop before moving on to a printing business. Today he is more involved with real estate. He is where I got a lot of early inspiration from. One of the biggest things I learned from him was persistence. No matter how many businesses you start, it just takes one successful business to make up for all of the different tries.

Growing up, I remember Friday nights in particular. My dad would always come home with a story. He would talk about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and all these guys starting their companies. Even today when there is something in the business I need advice on, he is one of the first people I call.

I went to school at the University of Illinois. When I went to college I studied computer science for my undergrad. I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur, but I chose computer science because I realized from my dad that what industry you are in makes a big difference. I think Warren Buffet says this, too. If you are mediocre in finance you will do much better than if you are mediocre in the printing business. I studied computer science and graduated in 1996. Mosaic was developed at the University of Illinois in 1994. My last year of college I joined a group of guys and we started a company doing auctions for online advertising.

SM: Where they friends you grew up with in Chicago?

SH: Two of them are from Chicago and the other was from Missouri. It ended up being an interesting group. Two of them started PayPal and the other had a company purchased by Microsoft. Everyone has gone on to start interesting companies. That company in itself was not a huge success but we all learned a ton. After that I wanted to come here and learn all the things I did not know. I decided to get jobs that would help me fill the gaps. The first company I worked at was called ClickOver. I did sales and business development for a couple of years. It was a very interesting experience. They sold to CMGi in the summer of 1998. I then joined eGroups that summer. That is where I learned product management, which I felt was crucial to learning how to start my own company.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Social Networking Without Boundaries : hi5 CEO Ramu Yalamanchi
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