Infosys' Murthy gropes in a labyrinth

I recently attended a poetry session by Gulzar, in which spoke of the angst of a parent whose children live abroad and his alienation during their annual visits. “Every year they come/And it is not clear if it is the same or some others.”

I was reminded of this, looking at Infosys from the point of view of founder NR Narayana Murthy, who completes a year this month after returning to revive the sagging company as its executive chairman. This was not the same Infosys he founded. The old Infoscions were willing to go a long, long way for a home loan or a tiny slice of stock options. The new ones are NRI types.

When BG Srinivas quit as president last week to signal the latest in a series of exits at high levels following his return, in his private moments, Murthy may have felt like the alienated parent of the  NRI. There is no secret sauce as yet, and it is a competitive market.

Murthy has spoken of the “emotional investment” he made in Infosys, but even the great Steve Jobs was once ousted from Apple, his own child. With 84% of the company held by institutions or the general public, Infosys belongs neither to Murthy, nor to the founders. It is now the board that calls the shots, not he.

But Murthy’s dream of putting India’s software industry on the world map is a reality—much like that of a parent whose child makes waves overseas.

 

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