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5 things about Vishal Sikka who is likely to head Infosys

June 02, 2014 13:28 IST

5 things about Vishal Sikka who is likely to head Infosys

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Shishir Asthana in Mumbai

Vishal Sikka is a well known figure among the Silicon Valley elite and was the closest to Hasso Plattner, founder of SAP.

Vishal Sikka might soon be a common name in India, says a Business Standard report. According to the report, Sikka, 46, is in the race for the CEO of India's most talked about IT company -- Infosys. 

Sikka completed his schooling from Rosary High School, Baroda where his father worked as an officer in Indian Railways. 

After his Computer Engineering from MS University, Baroda, Sikka finished his BS in Computer Science from SyracuseUniversity and his doctorate from StanfordUniversity in artificial intelligence.

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Image: Vishal Sikka may head Infosys.


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Sikka is a well known figure among the Silicon Valley elite and was the closest to Hasso Plattner, founder of SAP. 

Sikka, who was on the executive board of SAP, quit his job recently, which along with some presentation made in Infosys has led to the belief that he might be considered for the post of CEO in the latter.

Like every successful person, Sikka rose to the top one step at a time.

Here are five events to know about Vishal Sikka:

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Image: Vishal Sikka.
Photographs: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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5 things about Vishal Sikka who is likely to head Infosys

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1. After completing his education, Sikka worked at Xerox's research Palo Alto Labs, but later ventured out on his own.

He started his first company, iBrain, along with his brother, which was later acquired by Pattern RX, Inc. His second startup Bodha.com was acquired by Peregrine Systems, where Sikka worked as Vice President for Platform Technologies, post the acquisition.

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Photographs: Gregor Wolf/Wikimedia Commons

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5 things about Vishal Sikka who is likely to head Infosys

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2. Sikka joined SAP in 2002 to head the advanced technology group responsible for strategic innovative projects.

By 2007, he was named the first CTO of the company reporting directly to the CEO. He was responsible for all SAP products and innovation.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Vishal Sikka's Twitter

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3. A car accident in Costa Rica in 2008, where Sikka was vacationing with family, was a turning point in Sikka's life as well as that of SAP. Though no one was seriously injured in the accident, Sikka wanted to move on in life rather than continue with his job.

Over a dinner in the winter of 2008 in Aspen, Sikka tried to explain to SAP's founder Hasso Plattner that he wanted out of the company and work on newer technological areas which were affecting data computation speed.

Plattner, in turn challenged Sikka to intellectually renew SAP and gave him a free hand in doing so. Thus, HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance), one of the fasted selling SAP product, was born, which completely changed the fortunes of SAP.

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Image: A worker adjusts a spotlight at the SAP booth in preparation for the CeBIT fair in Hannover.
Photographs: Thomas Peter/Reuters

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5 things about Vishal Sikka who is likely to head Infosys

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4. Sikka's exit from SAP has shaken the company.

A Business Insider article said that Sikka is a victim of power struggle in the company. SAP, a German company, was witnessing power struggle between the prominent members in Germany and those in the US.

Sikka was seen as an American Executive in the company and Plattner's man in the company. European board members, customers and big investors were concerned about how SAP was increasing becoming an American company, especially since the current CEO is an American, Bill McDermott.

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Photographs: Courtesy, SAP

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5. Sikka's exit process gathered speed after a German magazine DAS E-3 published a critical article about SAP's internal politics, the German-American power struggle and about how Sikka was directly in competition with the German head and a prospective future CEO.

Sikka responded to the article in his personal blog and slammed the article and author, criticising the story as a fabrication of a gossip monger. The blog did not go well with the top brass in Germany and Sikka had to go. 

There is little doubt about the technological capability and Vishal Sikka, but the question to be asked if he is being considered for Infy's CEO post is -- Is Infosys ready for Sikka? To put it bluntly, Infosys is a sweatshop, most of its revenue is derived from commoditised offerings. 

Sikka, on the other hand, is an innovator. Infosys is nowhere in the space where Sikka is used to working. Sikka might be too much of a cultural and intellectual shock for Infosys.


Image: Infosys
Photographs: Amit/Wikimedia Commons

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