I first visited Bangalore in 1996, when the information technology boom was just getting going. One of my stops 12 years ago was Infosys, an Indian IT company, which then employed roughly 3,000 people and had revenues of $30m a year. Revisiting the firm last Friday, I discovered that it now employs 97,000 people and has a market cap of about $20 billion.
Chatting to my hosts, we established that the man I had interviewed 12 years ago was none other than Narayana Murthy, the company’s co-founder. They were a bit startled that I couldn’t instantly recall his name. I suppose it’s a bit like turning up at Microsoft and vaguely remembering once having interviewed a chap with glasses – who turns out to have been Bill Gates.
Talking of American business icons, I then went on to visit the John F. Welch technology centre run by GE in Bangalore. The first time Welch, the legendary boss of General Electric, visited India – he had what you might call a gut reaction. He got a stomach bug so bad that he decided that he wanted nothing further to do with the country. Fortunately for GE and for India, he was eventually prevailed upon to change his mind. GE opened a research centre and technology park in Bangalore in 2000. It now employs 4,000 engineers – with a further 2,000 hires planned. Read more