Bangalore: Ending an eventful 33-year history at IT behemoth Infosys, the company on Wednesday honoured the last of its founders NR Narayana Murthy and Kris Gopalakrishnan, who have stepped down from its board, at a farewell function held here.
Infosys, started by seven enterprising engineers and grown to USD 8.24 billion in revenues, was set up in Bangalore in 1981, with Narayana Murthy becoming the longest serving CEO for 21 years.
On a day when all but one of the founders gathered at the company they founded and luxuriated in memories of yore, founder chairman Murthy said Infosys epitomized his belief in compassionate capitalism.
Though Murthy and Gopalakrishnan stepped down as executive chairman and executive vice-chairman respectively on June 14, they will continue on the board till October 10 as non-executive chairman and non-executive vice chairman respectively.
Murthy said he has no regrets about his stint with the company and considered the listing of Infosys on Nasdaq as the high point of his CEO stint.
“We leave with the satisfaction of taking this company from a market value of Rs 28.5 crore on the day of listing in India in 1993 to Rs 200,000 crore today, a return of 6,50,000 per cent over 21 years – and, a CAGR of 89 per cent,” he said.
Gopalakrishnan said, “We came from similar backgrounds but developed unique specialisations and gave space to everyone”. He said that his education in physics and stumbling on computer programming at IIT Madras were two factors that changed his life.
“I did not tell my fiancée or future in-laws about leaving my job and starting a company. But they were very supportive when they came to know of it. In fact, my investment in Infosys came from my father-in-law,” he said.
About his future plans, Gopalakrishnan spoke about his collaboration with IISc in the area of brain research and his engagements with startup villages in Kerala and Vishakhapatanam. On any plans to enter politics, he said, “At this point I have no political ambitions. I am not cut out for politics.”
Co-founder Nandan Nilekani, who has tried his luck in the political arena, said, “Infosys has set new standards for middle class people to become entrepreneurs and created a true meritocracy”.
KV Kamath, who is set to take over as non-executive chairman of the Infosys board on October 11, said, “This is a historic moment in Indian business which we will not see in the foreseeable future. The founders who built a company of this size and legacy are stepping away from their executive and non-executive positions”.
Vishal Sikka, the current managing director and CEO of Infosys, who took over the baton from SD Shibulal, the company's last co-founder CEO, said, “It is a moving experience to freeze time and witness a passing-on experience. This is an organisation with very strong values and beliefs. It believes in speed and innovation and I hope these will continue to be preserved.”
Infosys has been witnessing four straight years of narrowing margins, with critics saying that the slide has been exacerbated by the exit of over a dozen senior executives since June last year after Narayana Murthy rejoined the company. There are reorganisation challenges aplenty for current incumbent CEO and MD Sikka as he tries to reinvent the company's approach to client relationships and finetune its services strategy by giving greater thrust on productisation and innovation.