Narayana Murthy of Infosys to retire today. End of an Era

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Narayana Murthy of Infosys to retire today
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Had you managed to purchase 100 shares of Infosys in 1993 for the price of Rs 95 per share. The Rs 9,500 worth of investment would have been a huge investment by you at that time but today you would be worth Rs 2.30 crore, adjusted for all split and bonus. Also you would have received approximately Rs 5.76 lakh as tax-free dividend income last year on the same Rs 9500 worth of investment.

Many saw it but they all managed to miss on it. There was a huge risk, those who took it were rewarded well. And the man credited for making this rewarding those who took this risk is Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy.

He fulfilled the Indian middle-class dream of using education to become a billionaire in a single generation. What makes him reach the cult status is the fact, that he made truck loads of money for his investors, innovated an industry and got rich himself in the process but he still maintains the simple life style and donates liberally.

Although his management skills and wealth creation is much talked about, not much emphasis is paid on his media marketing skills. He knew that image matters and hence, every little interesting thing that he made sure that the growing print and electronic media always found the good story.

Innovations like employee stock option programmes, exhaustive annual reports, showcasing a fabulous campus, cycles for the young employees to zip around, got tremendous attention in the media.

In the same way, each time the media wrote about driving a lowly sedan, living in a middle class home even after he became a billionaire and travelling simple; his actions reflected how people perceived the company, Infosys.

And with all of this he made sure to deliver through the numbers as well. Its revenues rose from a humble $6-million to the over $6-billion in 20 years.

Today, August 19, 2011, Friday evening will be Murthy's last day as part of the Infosys. Murthy's retirement comes at a time Infosys is facing multiple headwinds. Competitors are catching up fast, Accenture became bigger in terms of market cap and the cognizant has eclipsed Wipro. Its premium-pricing is also under-stress.

So the true test of his legacy will come to test from Monday onwards. Its success will be measured if all the processes and systems built over the decades delivers without him at the top.

Many believe that Murthy will not be fading into the sun set anytime yet, his shadow looms large even as Murthy is just a call away for a sound company.

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