MAHESH MURTHYFounder, Pinstorm
Mahesh has 24 years of marketing and communications experience – of which over 14 years are in online marketing. After dropping out of college, Mahesh sold vacuum cleaners from door to door and then found a home in advertising with Grey in India and Ogilvy in Hong Kong, where he won international notoriety as a creative director on HP, Microsoft, Unilever, The Economist, Pepsi and MTV – for whom he wrote and directed a spot voted “Asia’s best commercial of the decade”.
Mahesh then moved to a Silicon Valley firm, CKS Partners (later, USWeb/ CKS) as Creative Director and eventually, Partner – where he helped create and launch the first commercial version of Yahoo in 1995 and the “Earth’s biggest bookstore” campaign for Amazon.com in 1997. After a successful IPO for CKS, Mahesh moved to head marketing at iCat, an e-commerce firm in Seattle, which was subsequently acquired by Intel. Mahesh then returned to India to run Channel V, a rival to MTV, till its sale to News corp in 2000 and then founded Passion fund to invest in and guide startups.
Among his investments were Geodesic, a mobile software firm with a 2008 market cap of over $500m; EBS Direct, a multinational loyalty and marketing services firm; Compass box, acquired by Career Launcher and Web Dunia, India’s leading multilingual portal.
Mahesh pens reasonably infamous columns across various business publications and has played the Donald Trump-equivalent role in an Indian rip-off of The Apprentice, involving entrepreneurs and business plans. While running digital marketing campaigns for his favorite charity in late 2003, Mahesh saw an opportunity to change the basic business model in advertising and set up Pinstorm with a bunch of great people to do so. As the company has grown and better people than him – like others listed here – have come on board, his contribution to business is increasingly restricted to deciding whose lunch box to raid at the communal table. Mahesh co-founded his second fund, Seed fund in 2006 with the backing of investors like Google and Motorola to create and guide even more revolutionary companies.