Bangalore: India's iconic figure N.R. Narayana Murthy was wished by Microsoft founder Bill Gates late Friday as he retired from Infosys Ltd that he co-founded three decades ago with just Rs 10,000.
Billionaire Gates called up Murthy from Seattle in the US where his global software major is headquartered and tele-wished him the very best in his future endeavours.
Though Murthy's term ends formally Aug 21 as non-executive chairman and chief mentor of the country's second largest IT bellwether, he decided to bid adieu to his 'grown up baby' Friday as his 65th birthday falls Saturday, a weekend holiday for the company.
Incidentally, his illustrious wife Sudha Murthy celebrated her 62nd birthday Friday. Their son Rohan, daughter-in-law Lakshmi and daughter Akshata were present on the historic occasion to witness the passage of a glorious era in a company Murthy toiled to build brick-by-brick with six other co-founders.
Renowned banker K.V. Kamath will succeed Murthy Aug 22 as the first non-founder chairman of the USD 6.1-billion global software major following his appointment April 30 to the top executive post.
Murthy will, however, continue to associate with the 30-year-old company as chairman emeritus for life long and be a friend, guide and philosopher to about 130,000 Infocions the world over.
"It has been a wonderful and dream journey. I take this opportunity to express deep gratitude to each and everyone who has been associated with this great company in the past and present for helping me in realising the dream," an emotional Murthy told a packed auditorium in the sprawling Infy campus on the outskirts of this tech hub.
Other co-founders, including newly-appointed co-chairman S. Gopalakrishnan, chief executive S.D. Shibulal, N.S. Raghavan and K. Dinesh joined about 10,000 employees in giving a standing ovation to Murthy, flanked by his family members, relatives and long-time friends.
The absence of another co-founder and former vice-chairman Nandan Nilekani, currently chairman of the state-run Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or Aadhar was conspicuous as he was away in New Delhi and could not attend the three-hour long event due to pressing engagements.
Former directors T.V. Mohandas Pai and Phaneesh Murthy several bigwigs from the IT sector, state government and India Inc., including Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Led by Raghavan, speaker after speaker eulogised Murthy for his extraordinary achievements and contributions to make Infosys a global brand and putting Bangalore and India on the global IT map in a span of two decades, riding on the outsourcing boom.
Independent director Deepak Satwalker said though it was Murthy's last day in office as non-executive chairman, the occasion called for celebrations and drawing inspiration and strength from the legendary personality.
Recalling his long association and friendship with Murthy, chairman-designate Kamath said during his tenure as ICICI Ban chairman, he learnt a lot from 'NRN' about corporate governance, ethical values, transparency, integrity, fairness and principles of management.
As a farewell gift and to sow the future of Infosys, Murthy planted a sapling that was christened 'Infosys is a 90-country banyan'.
Murthy co-founded Infosys in 1981 along with six other software code writers as co-founders at Pune with just Rs 10,000 as seed capital by borrowing from Sudha (his wife) who raised the money by mortgaging her gold jewellery.
After serving as chief executive till 2002 and handing over the baton to Nilekani, Murthy continued as executive chairman till 2006 and became chief mentor in 2007, creating enormous wealth to thousands of investors and millionaire employees, besides making Infosys the first Indian firm to be listed on the New York-based Nasdaq in 1999.
First Published: Saturday, August 20, 2011, 10:17