Trouble is afoot at Indian tech giant Infosys. CEO Vishal Sikka resigned last week citing ‘unrelenting, baseless… and increasingly personal attacks.’
Sikka, who has been the CEO and managing director of Infosys for the last three years, is the company’s first CEO to come from outside of the company’s founders. He previously held executive positions at SAP over the course of 12 years with the company and was SAP’s first Chief Technology Officer. Sikka also played various roles in the development of SAP HANA.
Since its inception in 1981, Infosys has grown to include 200,000 employees around the globe, with the majority of its revenue coming from software outsourcing services in the United States. The company reported revenue of about $2.6 billion USD in Q2 of 2017 as it began further expansion into the U.S. In May, Sikka had pledged to open a technology and innovation office this year in Indiana that would create as many as 10,000 jobs.
Despite this growth, Sikka and the Infosys board of directors have been embattled with the company’s founder Narayana Murthy, who, according to media reports, said that independent directors at the company told him Sikka was more suited as a CTO rather than CEO. He also reportedly criticized Infosys over corporate governance issues.
In response to Murthy’s letters being released to various media outlets, the Infosys board put out a statement blaming Murthy for his “continuous assault, including this latest letter, as the primary reason that CEO, Vishal Sikka, has resigned despite strong Board support”. The statement also added that Murthy’s letter contains “factual inaccuracies, already-disproved rumours, and statements extracted out of context from his conversations with Board members”.
In light of these reports, Sikka said in a letter published by the company following his resignation that, “this continuous drumbeat of distractions over the last several months/quarters inhibits [Infosys’] ability to make positive change and stay focused on value creation.”
Sikka followed that statement up in a blog post where he wrote, “I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting … and increasingly personal attacks.”
Following his resignation, Sikka agreed to become the executive vice chairman of the board of directors until a new permanent CEO and managing director could be found. Pravin Rao has taken the role of interim CEO and managing director.
However, Sikka’s role on the board of directors turned out to be short lived. Just this morning, Infosys announced that it had appointed Nandan Nilekani as the non-executive chairman of the board. Nilekani is one of the co-founders of Infosys and served as its CEO from 2002 and 2007.
In a statement announcing the news, outgoing chairman R. Seshasayee stated that, “Nandan is the ideal leader for Infosys at this stage in the company’s development.” Seshasayee will be stepping down from the board. Sikka revealed that he will also be stepping down, as will fellow board members Jeffrey Lehman and John Etchemendy.
“Last week I said that my remaining on the Infosys Board was to primarily enable a smooth transition. In Nandan we have found an ideal leader to manage this transition. I welcome his appointment as chairman to help guide Infosys to new frontiers of success and wish him, Pravin, and all Infoscions the very best in the times ahead,” said Sikka.