Nikesh Arora is the former President and Chief Operating Officer of SoftBank Corp; he was with SoftBank Corp from October 2014 until June 2016. Prior to joining SoftBank, he was a top executive at Google where he held multiple senior operating leadership roles. At one point in his career, he was Google's highest paid executive—he received a compensation package of $57.1 million in 2013. While working with SoftBank, he earned a salary of $208 million over a period of two years which made him one of the highest-paid executives in the world. Born in India, he earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi and worked for a while with Wipro. He then proceeded to the United States to pursue a degree in management from Northeastern University. He began his career working with Fidelity Investments as an analyst and simultaneously worked towards his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. During the 2000s he joined Google, a relatively small company at that time. At Google he held multiple senior operating leadership roles, eventually reaching the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer. He quit Google in 2014 to join SoftBank as President and Chief Operating Officer. His abrupt resignation from SoftBank in June 2016 came as a shock to many in the business fraternity.
Childhood & Early Life
Nikesh Arora was born on February 9, 1968, in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. The son of an Indian Air Force officer, he completed his schooling from The Air Force School in Delhi. He has one sister.
He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1989. He took up a job with Wipro following his graduation but quit it soon in order to pursue his higher education in the United States.
He joined the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, from where he earned an MBA.
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In 1992, Nikesh Arora joined Fidelity Investments as an analyst. He simultaneously joined a master's program in finance at the Boston College where he attended classes at night. The hardworking young man topped his class and completed his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) in 1995.
Over the ensuing years he rose through the ranks at Fidelity and held top finance and technology management portfolios, eventually becoming the Vice President, Finance, in Fidelity Technologies.
He left Fidelity to join Putnam Investments but he did not stay for long there. Soon he joined Deutsche Telekom.
In 2000, he started T-Motion PLC, a company which provided certain value added services for the newly launched 3G services of Deutsche Telekom. Within two years T-Motion was merged into Deutsche Telekom as a part of T-Mobile where Arora worked in various capacities including as a member of the board.
Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, he was looking to start another company in 2004 when he learnt of a small company that was looking for someone to manage its European business. The company was Google, which had just recently gone public.
Nikesh Arora accepted the job and managed Google’s European operations from 2004 to 2007. His efficiency and determination helped the company to spread its influence around Europe and earned Google billions in revenue. He was eventually made in charge of handling Middle East and African markets from 2007 to 2009.
Google became a tremendously successful company in the ensuing years and along with it, Arora too grew in stature. He served as President, Global Sales Operations and Business Development from 2009 to 2010.
In 2011, he became the Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer in Google. Soon, he became Google’s highest paid executive—he received a compensation package of $57.1 million or Rs 344 crores in 2013.
After working with Google for a decade, he quit the company in 2014 to join Japan’s SoftBank Corp as Vice Chairman of the group and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media Inc. There he was considered the heir apparent to the SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.
During his career with SoftBank Nikesh Arora received $208 million compensation over a period of two years. In June 2016, he abruptly resigned from his position at SoftBank, taking the business fraternity by surprise.
Having joined Google when it was still a small company, Nikesh Arora played a key role in managing the company’s sales and in expanding its revenues. As a top sales executive, he not only opened up new advertising markets worldwide, but also explored newer advertizing venues and managed Google’s network of a million websites to which it syndicates display ads.
During his stint at SoftBank, he credited with investing more than $2 billion in India across the startup sector. Some of his major investments were in Snapdeal, Housing.com and Oyo Rooms.
Awards & Achievements
Nikesh Arora the Global Indian award at the ET Corporate Excellence Awards in 2015.
Personal Life & Legacy
His first marriage to Kiran, with whom he has a daughter, ended in divorce.
In 2014, he married entrepreneur Ayesha Thapar in a lavish wedding.
Despite being a globe-trotter, he is an Indian at heart and loves Indian food. He plays golf in his leisure time and is a big fan of cricket.