Former Google, SoftBank exec Nikesh Arora named CEO of Palo Alto Networks

Nikesh Arora, formerly Chief Business Officer at Google and COO at SoftBank, replaced Mark McLaughlin as the CEO of cybersecurity giant Palo Alto Networks.


Credited for increasing Google’s USD 2 billion search business to USD 60 billion, its former Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora is now going to lead Palo Alto Networks as its chairman and CEO.

Arora replaced Mark McLaughlin, who will now serve as Vice Chairman at Palo Alto Networks. The decade-old cybersecurity giant currently serves 50,000 companies globally, employing around 5,000 people.

Arora joined Google in 2004, and over a span of three years, he held several key executive roles, including VP of Google’s Europe operations. At the time of his exit, the Ghaziabad-born four-striper was the senior vice president and Chief Business Officer at Google. Following his stint at Google, he joined SoftBank Corp as President and Chief Operating Officer.

An IIT Varanasi graduate (formerly IIT BHU), Arora did a brief stint at Wipro before leaving the country for an MBA program at the Northeastern University in Boston. Arora also served on the board of directors of heavyweights like Aviva, Airtel, Colgate-Palmolive, Richemont Sprint and SoftBank.

Raking in around USD 51 million in 2013, Arora was Google’s highest paid executive, though being fourth in the company’s hierarchy. At SoftBank, he again made headlines when it was revealed that his USD 100 million pay package made him the world’s highest paid executive.

Arora was once touted as a possible heir to SoftBank’s prolific founder Masayoshi Son.

The ill-famed smear campaign

During his tenure at SoftBank, the Wall Street Journal reported that there were allegations against Arora based on the USD 6 billion investment in Flipkart and Ola.

The report went on to reveal that SoftBank was probing a shareholder-led smear campaign against Arora. However, the board’s investigation revealed the claims against Arora to be baseless, and he was given a clean chit.