Sunday, 17 August 2014

Murthy scions look at social change

BANGALORE: The Murthy siblings have something in common, beyond sharing a famous surname. Rohan Murthy and sister Akshata Murthy are emerging as ideapreneurs, focusing on business and socially-driven innovation.

Rohan, son of Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy and a junior fellow at Society of Fellows at Harvard University, has extended his sabbatical from Harvard and is looking at some "exciting ideas" in India. Akshata is funding social innovation through Stanford University.

"I am staying put for a few months since Harvard has agree d to hold my position open until January. I have time to decide what I'll do next. I have a few exciting ideas I'm working on by myself," he said. Akshata and Rohan own 1.41% and 1.38% in Infosys that translates into Rs 2,920 crore and Rs 2,864 crore respectively.

Murthy took leave from Harvard to work as his father's executive assistant when the Infosys board requested Murthy to return from retirement and lead the company for a second time last year. In the past, Rohan has written several academic papers, including one about an algorithm called Satya that he and two colleagues developed. It allows spectrum owners to sell or sub-lease unused or under-utilized spectrum in a seamless way, ensuring there's no interference to the owner's own operation.

Some sources said he's actively involved in Murthy's family office Catamaran Ventures which has offices in the US and the UK. More recently, e-commerce behemoth Amazon and Catamaran Ventures floated a joint venture to help small and medium businesses join the online bandwagon. Catamaran holds a majority 51% stake in the venture, Taurus Business and Trade Services.

Catamaran Ventures, a Rs 600 crore fund launched in 2010, has invested in companies like Hector Beverages, Ace Creative Learning, Healthsprings and NRB Bearings in India. More recently, Catamaran Ventures UK bought a stake in UK-based Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging that offers commercial magnetic resonance imaging systems to diagnose equine lameness.

Akshata and her husband Rishi Sunak, who are directors in Catamaran Ventures UK, are supporting social ventures.

Murty and Sunak, who did their MBA from Stanford, have made a substantial gift to support the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business that offers social innovation fellowships to help individuals launch social ventures. Their contribution will fund the centre's Social Innovation Fellowship programme.

"I come from a family of entrepreneurs - my mother on the social side through the foundation and my father on the corporate side. I was raised with a view that entrepreneurship can change people's lives," Akshata was quoted as saying in an article on the Stanford Graduate School of Business website. She's on the board of trustees of Claremont McKenna College in California and also the founder and CEO of Akshata Designs that produces con temporary women's clothing. Murty,NR Narayana Murthy,Akshata Murty



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