Vishal Sikka, Infosys Ltd’s first non-founder CEO appointed in 2014, stepped down on Friday citing “false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks”, indicating that his exit from the IT bellwether was a fall-out of the “continuous assault” and sustained criticism of his functioning from within and outside the company.
The elephant in the room was founder and ex-chairman of the company N.R. Narayana Murthy, who picked Mr Sikka for the top job but over the last year has raised issues of “poor corporate governance” and executive pay as well as doubts over acquisitions leading to a year-long acrimony between the board and the high-profile founders led by Murthy.
Founders still hold 12.75 per cent in Infosys. Pravin Rao, currently chief operating officer, has been named interim CEO. Sikka will become executive vice- chairman for an annual salary of $1 to help find new MD and CEO latest by March 31, 2018.
Without naming anyone, Mr Sikka, in his resignation letter to the board said that “over the last many months and quarters, we have all been besieged by false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks” and these allegations have been repeatedly proven false by multiple independent investigations. The latest provocation is reportedly Mr Murthy claiming in an email, selectively leaked to the media, that he had been told by Infosys independent directors that Sikka was more suited as a Chief Technology Officer than Chief Executive Officer.
The Infosys board came out with a strongly-worded statement defending Mr Sikka’s performance and ruled out a formal role for any of co-founders in the company’s governance. Shares of Infosys fell about 12 per cent before recovering a bit.
At a hastily arranged press conference at the Infosys campus which Mr Sikka said that it was a “blue and sad day”.