Kris post-retirement plan: Angel investing in e-tailing, digital marketing startups

Written by fe Bureau | Bangalore | Updated: Aug 5 2014, 06:34am hrs
Infosys billionaire co-founder S Gopalakrishnan plans to invest in tech startups focused on the e-tailing sector after his retirement from the IT major in October this year. Gopalakrishnan, better known as Kris, currently holds 3.42% in Infosys, a stake valued a little more than $1 billion.

On Monday, he announced he was keen on angel investing in startups in areas like e-tailing and digital marketing. Talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a CII event on Monday, he said, I plan to invest in my personal capacity in areas such as digital marketing and e-tailing, which seem to be very hot.

The Infosys vice-chairman expects technology to become a big enabler for the growing e-commerce industry in India. E-tailing is still very nascent and our initial reaction is to copy from the physical world. However, technology is going to change the way we do things and make the entire experience better, he said.

He added there were enough tech startups based in Bangalore he could look at, but he did provide further details.

The e-commerce industry is expected to touch $20 billion in the next five years and the sector is getting increasingly defined through technology. Flipkart, which recently announced a funding of $1 billion, is keen to use part of this money to make tech acquisitions in the mobile space to enhance shoppers' experience. Gopalakrishnan provided the example of Amazon, which started as an e-commerce player and today is a leading player in the area of cloud technology.

When asked how he planned to invest in these startups, he said all the options would be open for him. I can invest in my personal capacity or collaborate with others, he added. His former Infosys colleagues TV Mohandas Pai and V Balakrishnan have already started a private equity fund with a size of R100 crore focused on technology companies.

Outlining his retirement plans, Kris said he will focus on three main areas after retirement: promoting innovation, investing in startups and philanthropy. He had donated R225 crore in January this year to set up the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science. Later, he added to the kitty by donating another $1.8 million for Carnegie Mellon University for this research partnership. These were done through his charitable trust, Pratiksha.

Kris is also one of the key promoters of the incubation centre at the Startup Village in Kochi, Kerala. He would be focusing on two cities in India Bangalore and Kochi for his startup investments. The Infosys vice-chairman is also expected to provide some sort of advisory role to the new chief executive officer of the company, Vishal Sikka.