Goodbye dear Founders!
Friday was a historic day for Corporate India. For the first time a group of Founders who created India’s most iconic company, ran it for 33 years, which set standards in every field of corporate endeavour, created 37b$ of value over 21 years, stepped down from the Board and put in place a new management team with an independent Board to take the company forward to meet its destiny.
These were no ordinary folks. They were from the educated middle class, without family wealth, without any licence or quota or benefits from the government, with only their intellect and education, with a middle class value system and ethics, who democratised entrepreneurship and became role models for a country of 1.25B people! They assembled a team of 165, 000 people, created an alumni of 200,000 who were best in class based on merit and transparency, giving the space for all to realise their dreams.
Infosys put enormous resources into training, creating the world’s largest corporate university, giving all a life-long high quality skill making them truly global leaders. Infosys created extraordinary campuses and work places which created awe amongst world class global companies. They also shared the wealth they created with others in the company in an open, transparent collegial environment.
Infosys is the poster child of liberalisation and the answer to the great Indian middle class dream, of a company based on values where their children could build global careers based on the notion that merit shall prevail and of which they could always be proud. Infosys treated investors with respect, acting as their trustees, enhanced disclosure across the board, set standards in reporting, transparency, practices, communication and became the gold standard in investor relations. Being the first was not easy because it meant that you set tough standards and you were held to these standards.
Behind all this stood the philosophy of the founders that they were on a journey to create a great institution for the long haul. They kept their families away from the company, made a distinction between personal needs and corporates resources, paid themselves meagre salaries, and ran the company with great integrity and panache. Infosys was tested many times on its ethical standards; each time, it emerged triumphant.
In developed countries, entrepreneurs found companies, grow their companies, invite investors in, become investor managers and then transition to becoming investors, leaving their companies with professional teams governed by independent boards, thus ensuring that they diversify their wealth and benefit from growth without being limited by their talent.
In India, generally “promoters” raise capital from the public, keep a controlling interest to pass on to their children and their children, stating that the company though listed belongs to them and is a property to be passed on. A look at the Sensex companies of 1991 and 2014 clearly demonstrates that many of those who do not transition fade into oblivion at great cost to themselves.
To give up something of such great value and walk away is not easy, for the Indian tendency is to put the family above all. We have seen a new standard being set, again in the Infosys tradition of being the leader, the first to set standards. When the history of corporate India, of the last 25 years is written, this saga shall be written in golden letters.
Good luck, NRN, NSR, Kris, NMN, Shibu and Dinesh. You have again made India and all of us proud!
-wrote Mohandas Pai
Hat Tip Andrew Bloch
Steve Jobs asks Sean Connery to appear in an ad for Apple.Here is his reply:
For more than fifty years after the formation of the Indian Railways, there was one crucial element that was missing on the nation’s trains: toilets.
Passengers had to wait till till the stations to answer the call of nature, and it was not until a passenger named Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this angry yet amusing letter in 1909 that toilets were installed on Indian trains.