Nikesh Arora, cleared just yesterday in a board inquiry, is quitting SoftBank

BFF no more?
BFF no more?
Image: Reuters/Toru Hanai
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Nikesh Arora, one of the world’s highest-paid executives and the second-in-command at SoftBank, has stepped down as president and chief operating officer of the Japanese multinational.

SoftBank said Arora’s departure was a result of differences with company chairman Masayoshi Son over the timing of leadership transition. Nonetheless, the news comes just a day after Arora was cleared by a company-appointed committee over allegations of conflict of interest and poor investment performance.

“Masayoshi Son, chairman & CEO of SBG, had been considering Arora as a strong candidate for succession. Son’s intention was to keep leading the Group in various aspects for the time being, while Arora wished to start taking over the lead in a few years’ time. The difference of expected timelines between the two leads to Arora’s resignation from the position of Representative Director and Director of SBG with the expiration of the term of office and his next steps,” SoftBank said in a statement (pdf).

The India-born IIT graduate spent almost a decade at Google before he was handpicked by Son in 2014 to succeed him. Arora was the head of Google’s European operations from 2004 to 2007, before becoming the head of global sales at the company. In 2011, he became the senior vice president and chief business officer at Google and was reportedly Google’s highest-paid executive. Arora will now be an advisor to Softbank.

“I was thinking of handing over my job as CEO when I turn 60, but thought maybe I’m still a bit too young, and still have energy to continue,” the 58-year-old Son told the Wall Street Journal.

Arora was the world’s third-highest-paid executive last year, according to Bloomberg. He earned about 16.6 billion yen ($135 million) between joining the company in 2014 and by the end of March 2015.

“This (decision) will allow me to think about my next move,” Arora told the Journal.

Since he joined SoftBank, Arora has invested around $4 billion in startups across the world, and is widely credited for guiding the company’s investments in India’s booming startup ecosystem. However, some of Arora’s investment decisions had come in for criticism from some of SoftBank’s shareholders who pointed at their poor performance.