Narayan Murthy: the father of the IT boom in India

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Narayan Murthy is often described as “the father of India’s computer boom”. He is also the father-in-law of UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has at times been faced with “embarrassing questions” about the wealth and trade relationships of his super-rich connections, explains The Independent. A year ago, Sunak was under scrutiny over allegations that he failed to declare his wife Akshata’s multi-million pound business portfolio in the official Ministerial Interests Register, although the affair came to nothing.

An American company in India

The problem barely made waves in India given the “strength” of the family’s reputation for business ethics, which has built up over decades. Much more damaging for Murthy, 75, has been a recent entanglement with Amazon looking for an online marketplace with a potential value of $ 1 billion, Bloomberg said. After much protests, the two parties are in the process of dissolving their lucrative seven-year joint venture, Prione. The business (jointly owned by Amazon and Murthy’s private investment firm, Catamaran Ventures) “started out helping local merchants go online to sell their wares” but quickly grew into “a supplier itself. dominant “under the Amazon Cloudtail name.

Claims of being “in cahoots” with Amazon and “harming the interests of his country” are at odds with Murthy’s status as a business pioneer and role model. He remains the most prominent of the seven co-founders who launched the outsourcing giant, Infosys, in Pune in 1981 with just $ 250 in seed capital – ultimately making it one of India’s largest companies with $ 12 billion. million dollars in revenue and over 200,000 employees. , says the Financial Times. Infosys also broke new ground in other respects: from the outset, it “sought to distinguish itself from existing Indian companies by promoting high standards of governance, transparency and ‘compassionate capitalism’.”

Son of a village school physics teacher, Murthy “originally aspired to run a hydroelectric power station” but became “fascinated with computers” while studying at the elite Indian Institute of Technology in the 1960s, Bloomberg explains. Returning to India in 1974 after working in Paris after graduation, he established his first company, Softronics, which focused on providing IT services to the local market – but soon realized that prospects were limited.

The impetus for starting Infosys was to tap into the growing international market, says the FT. Its main success has come from helping multinationals, including Cisco, Pfizer and Reebok, “manage their clumsy IT systems.” When it was introduced in 1993, Infosys was described by American admirers as “an American company in India,” paving the way for a host of other Indian companies that made the country the IT services capital of the world during the IT boom. outsourcing.

A descent into bloody crumbs

Murthy often describes Infosys as “his middle child” – and was praised for his keen sense of hindsight when he urged the “old guard” of the company to turn control of the company over to outside management. Still, it turned out to be anything but a success, says the FT. In recent years, the “latent tension” over the succession and commercial management of Infosys has “been reversed in public view on several occasions” and the company – now consistently described as “in difficulty” – was “shaken by damaging allegations from whistleblowers.” Exacerbating these tensions is the obvious decline of the global outsourcing industry, described by one analyst as a “bloodier” business than it was a decade ago, with “everyone … fighting for. Business “.

Sunak likes to quote one of his father-in-law’s favorite sayings: “In God we trust, but everyone should bring data to the table.” Despite a recent rally in the stock market, the data hasn’t been good enough lately.

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