A (digital) coffee with SoftBank’s Nikesh Arora

The investor—and tweeter.
The investor—and tweeter.
Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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SoftBank’s president and chief operating officer, Nikesh Arora, is one of the most sought after investors in India. But despite his high-profile job, India-born Arora is prompt and candid on Twitter, and regularly interacts with his 29,300 (and counting) followers.

Arora, the former chief business officer of Google and a potential successor to SoftBank CEO and chairman Masayoshi Son, is one of the few investors in India well-known outside the startup ecosystem. Everything about his work or personal life—be it his marriage to Delhi-based businesswoman Ayesha Thapar in Italy or Softbank’s investments in startups like Snapdeal and Ola—leads to intense media scrutiny.

On Aug. 19, the IIT-BHU graduate made headlines again when he announced a rather unusual move to buy shares worth $483 million (over Rs3,000 crore) in SoftBank Group. This a big departure from the regular practice where companies reward employees by offering them shares.

“This is a large transaction for me, and involves taking an enormous risk in my life once again,” Arora, 47, said in a company filing to the Tokyo Stock Exchange(pdf). “However, I am extremely confident about the future of the SoftBank group and the long-term objectives that we have set out.”

And to explain his motivation behind making such a huge investment in SoftBank, Arora took to Twitter.

Arora’s interactions with followers on Twitter are not limited to his job. He frequently voices his frank opinions about his investment interests and personal life.

Be candid

Arora has a message for global leaders:

“…I want to know what they (world leaders) think, not what people think they should think and say,” he elaborates in another tweet.

A follower recently asked Arora to start a “digital coffee pe charcha” (digital conversations over a cup of coffee), inspired by prime minister Narendra Modi’s famous chai pe charcha (conversations over a cup of tea).


The philosopher

On Twitter, Arora is often quite philosophical.

To a question about what success means to him:

Arora also contributes to social causes, but…

On how he keeps himself motivated?

When asked about his philosophical replies on Twitter:

And even as he is at the top of his career, Arora has a retirement plan:

Investment interests

Two sectors that are frequently mentioned in Arora’s tweets are solar energy and education.

But there’s one sector in India that Arora wants to stay away from:

His investment style:

And for those who want to get funds from SoftBank:

Lessons for Indian startups

Arora believes there are several things that Indian entrepreneurs can learn from their peers in the SiliconValley.

Personal life

What he reads?

His weakness:

His school memories:

His inspiration:

In an almost child-like way, Arora describes his first foreign trip:

And on a question about SoftBank’s Son comparing him with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates:

Does his secretary type his tweets?

To those who begin to get a little rude…