Narayana Moorthy

Engineer , Billionaire and

Co-Founder of Infosys Technologies

Narayana Moorthy

If a Bollywood scriptwriter was asked to write a story about a small town boy growing up to form a company that would create a storm not only on the domestic bourses but also on NASDAQ – the holiest of shrines for technological companies the world over, then probably he would model his story on the life of Narayana NR Murthy. About two decades ago, Narayana

Murthy along with six friends started Infosys Technologies with an investment of about $250. Today Infosys has a market capitalization of $24 billion on the NASDAQ and the individual networth of Narayana Murthy, the chairman and CEO of Infosys, is estimated at $1.5 billion.

Narayana Murthy had a very humble beginning. His father was a school teacher in the Kolar district of Karnataka. Born on August 20, 1946, young Murthy was considered a bright student. He grew up to acquire a degree in Electrical Engineering from Mysore University, and later went on to study Computer Science at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur.

In 1981, Narayana Murthy founded Infosys Technologies along with six of his friends. Since its inception the company has grown at a tremendous pace. For the year ending March, 2000, the company earned $61.3 million on sales of $203.4 million. Infosys has done well not only in the domestic stock markets but also in the international markets. Infosys is the first Indian company to be listed in the U.S. and has generated a lot of excitement on the NASDAQ.

Narayana Murthy was strongly influenced by the socialists he befriended while working in France in the 1970s. However, he was disillusioned when he was arrested in Bulgaria over espionage charges. Today, he is considered as one of the leading capitalists in India, but with socialist inclinations. "I'm a capitalist in my mind, a socialist in my heart", he says. It was perhaps his belief in distribution of wealth that made Infosys one of the first Indian companies to offer employee stock-option plans, a move that has created 400 US dollar millionaires.

He thinks that his role as chairman and CEO of Infosys is to ensure that the company is successful not only in the present but also in the future. He considers the hardest task for any software company in the world is to attract and retain the best talent. He wants to establish a global brand equity for Infosys. He says, "You ask people in the U.S., Europe or Japan: ‘Which is the company you want to outsource your software to?’ We want them to say "Infosys," but they don't yet".

Narayana Murthy is a quiet and soft-spoken man; he is married, and has one daughter and one son. He has never sought publicity or recognition, on the contrary it has been the other way around. He was selected as one of the 50 most powerful people in Asia for the year 2000 in a poll conducted by Asiaweek. In an online poll conducted by Economic Times, a leading Indian business daily, 50% of the respondents voted him as the best CEO of India. In 1998, he was awarded the prestigious J.R.D. Tata Corporate Leadership Award and was voted ''IT Man of the Year'' for 1996 by Dataquest India.

He has also served, from 1992 to 1994, as the President of National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). He is on the Governing Council of the National Information Technology Task Force of India and has served as a director of the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI). He has also served, since 1998, as a director of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL). He is a Fellow of the All India Management Association (AIMA) and the Computer Society of India (CSI).

From a small town in Karnataka to the corporate boardroom of Infosys, Narayana Murthy’s journey has been truly remarkable. It is hardly surprising that many budding engineers and entrepreneurs consider him as a role model.