Two more troubling exits from Infosys: Quo Vadis? Whither goest thou?

Bangalore December 20 2013: We at IndiaTechOnline  don't normally comment on the hiring and firing that goes on in the Infotech industry -- we confine ourselves to technology. But we are making an exception today to report the latest exits from, one of India's biggest IT players and a brand leader -- Infosys -- because of the effect this may have on the technology flowing from the company.
Just a day ago,  Executive Council member, Subrahmanyam (Subu) Goparaju, Senior Vice President and Head of Infosys Labs, the Technology Research and Innovation arm of Infosys and head of the Intellectual Property Cell (IP Cell) of the company, put in his papers.

And today, the company announced that V. Balakrishnan, Member of the Board, Head of Infosys BPO, Head of Finacle, the banking solutions group and the India Business Unit, as well as the Chairman of Infosys Lodestone , the management consulting arm of Infosys, a veteran of the company from its formative days in 1988, has also resigned. According to the company's own website, "He played a key role in the company's Indian IPO in 1993 as well as the company’s first overseas listing in 1999. He has also closely supervised the three sponsored secondary offerings by Infosys, including two Public Offerings Without Listing in Japan. He has played a significant role in the company's first acquisition in Australia."
This is the eighth exit of a senior Infosys executive since the co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy returned as Executive Chairman in June this year after relinquishing the office in 2011. "Last month, Stephen R Pratt the firm's Head of Utilities and Resources for North America had put in his papers. In September, Infosys Head of BPO sales in Australia Kartik Jayaraman and BPO Head Latin America Humberto Andrade had quit the company. Ashok Vemuri, board member and head of the company's Americas business quit a month earlier. His exit was preceded by the exit of Sudhir Chaturvedi, former head of banking and financial services in the US and Basab Pradhan, ex-global head, sales and marketing in July" ( Business Standard. )

Mr Balakrishnan was widely touted -- at least in the business media-- to become the CEO after current incumbent S D Shibulal completed his term in 2015. Business Standard also reports that Balakrishnan sold 100,000 Infosys shares on November 6-7 that fetched him Rs 330 million.

“Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence.
The third time it's enemy action".  
Ian Fleming, Goldfinger.

The departure of Goparaju is being seen by Sudin Apte, CEO & Research Director of outsourcing advisory firm Offshore Insights as a possible fallout of Infosys under Narayana Murthy's dispensation, slashing the R&D team to a third from 600 to 200. (Economic Times) For long Infosys has been criticized for producing good looking balance sheets through its outsourcing services -- but little product or process innovation. One of the first acts of the Infosys management after Narayana Murthy retired the first time in 2011, was to proclaim Infosys 3.0 -- a new more creative thrust.

But two years down the road the Second Coming of Murthy has been seen to launch a more hardnosed business policy, with Infosys 3.0 quietly given a burial. Cutting R&D expense would seem, to be a part of this policy shift  -- even though it flies in the face of conventional wisdom -- and one can understand why any self respecting R&D head would move on, in the circumstances.

And as for Balakrishnan, Narayana Murthy said today: “Bala has been an early adopter and a keen anchor-builder of Infosys. It is difficult to imagine Infosys without Bala’s passion, commitment, and intellect" Nice valedictory words, but we may be pardoned for wondering: did he go or was he pushed? -- Anand Parthasarathy