Murthy, Narayana

Murthy, Narayana
▪ 2005

      Narayana Murthy, chairman and chief mentor of Indian software giant Infosys Technologies Ltd., had plenty to celebrate in 2004. In April he announced that the Bangalore-based company had posted $1.06 billion in total annual revenues, an astonishing 33% increase in revenues over the previous fiscal year. The company's growth was all the more remarkable because it came in the midst of a global downturn in the information technology industry. Infosys thus became the only publicly traded IT company in India to have reached the $1 billion milestone. Murthy, who had led the transformation of Infosys from a small software services firm into a global operation with such clients as Visa, Reebok, Boeing Co., and Cisco Systems, hailed his company's achievement in a statement and described surpassing $1 billion in revenues as “the beginning of a new journey.”

      Murthy was born on Aug. 20, 1946, in Kolar, Karnataka state, India. He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Mysore in 1967 and his master's degree in technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1969. During the 1970s he worked in Paris, where, among other projects, he helped design an operating system for handling air cargo at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Returning to India, he accepted a position with a computer systems company in Pune, but eventually he decided to launch his own company. He cofounded Infosys with six fellow computer professionals in 1981.

      The company grew slowly until the early 1990s, when the Indian government's decisive move toward economic liberalization and deregulation contributed to dramatic growth in the country's high-technology and computer sectors. Murthy aggressively expanded his company's services and client base, negotiating deals with many overseas businesses to provide them with consulting, systems integration, software development, and product engineering services. By 1999 Infosys had joined Nasdaq, becoming the first Indian company to be listed on an American stock exchange. The following year Asiaweek included Murthy in its Power 50, the magazine's annual list of the most powerful people in the region. In addition, Business Week named him one of its “Stars of Asia” for three consecutive years (1998–2000), and he was Fortune magazine's 2003 Asian Businessman of the Year.

      Such phenomenal success was not without controversy, however. In early 2004 a political debate that erupted in the U.S. over job losses caused by offshoring, the outsourcing of work overseas, was of serious concern to Infosys, which derived more than two-thirds of its revenue from American corporations. Murthy responded that it was “normal” that concerns over job losses would be voiced, and while he indicated that he thought outsourcing was “here to stay,” he made efforts to assuage some of the anger by announcing that Infosys would establish a consulting unit in the U.S. that would employ 500 workers. The controversy in the end appeared not to have significantly dented Infosys's business. On top of its 2004 performance, Murthy's company was forecasting a revenue increase of 25% for fiscal year 2005.

Sherman Hollar

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Universalium. 2010.

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