SoftBank Corp has named Nikesh Arora as its new president and COO as part of a larger restructuring which would see the Japanese telecom and internet conglomerate being renamed as SoftBank Group Corp (SBG) to reflect its new holding company status, it said on Monday.
Arora is one of the four non-Japanese in the 14-member board of SoftBank. Others include Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, a prized investment of SoftBank.
Although, the move simply reaffirms Arora’s status as the de facto number 2 at the Japanese giant, it pulls him out from the direct responsibility of handling SoftBank Internet & Media Inc (SIMI). SIMI, created last year with induction of Arora into the group, itself is being renamed as SB Group US, Inc.
India-born Arora, who was senior vice president and chief business officer of Google, had quit the tech giant and joined SoftBank in September 2014.
Prior to Google, he was senior advisor of value creation at Silver Lake Partners. Earlier, he had also served as chief marketing officer and a member of the management board of T-Mobile International AG & Co. In the past, he had also worked at Deutsche Telekom AG, Putnam Investments, Fidelity Investments, Colgate-Palmolive Co. Arora had also founded T-Motion Plc, a mobile multimedia subsidiary of T-Mobile International.
He had also served as a non-executive director of India telecom major Bharti Airtel from 2008 to 2014.
Arora holds an MS degree from Boston College and an MBA from Northeastern University in the US. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi.
He joined SoftBank as vice chairman of SoftBank Corp and was CEO of SIMI.
As head of SIMI, he led a series of big investments in India tech space since last October backing Snapdeal with $627 million besides leading a $210 million investment round in cabs aggregator Ola and a $90 million funding round in property search startup Housing.com.
SoftBank had said last year that it envisages as much as $10 billion investment in India in the next decade.
Arora had recently resigned as a nominee director of the above mentioned three Indian firms, in what is now being seen as a pre-cursor for the just announced restructuring.
Arora will take over the new position from June 19.
SoftBank Corp’s new name would be effective July 1, 2015.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said, “As president of SoftBank Group, Nikesh will work with me to drive the transformation of SoftBank as it enters a new phase.” Son, who is retaining his position as chairman and CEO of SBG, added that Arora would work with him to “create a sustainable business for centuries to come”, throwing more formal hint that Arora may succeed him at SoftBank.
“Many tech companies face a decline after 30 years due to evolving technologies, changing business models and overreliance on founders,” observed Son in his statement.
All group company assets will be consolidated under SBG, including SoftBank Mobile Corp (to be renamed SoftBank Corp on July 1), Yahoo Japan Corporation, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and all past and current investments by SB Group US, Inc (former SIMI).
Arora is taking over as a ‘representative director’ from Ken Miyauchi, who would remain a board member as director besides his operational designation of president and CEO of SoftBank Mobile Corp, the domestic telecommunications business, the company said. Miyauchi has been a long timer with SoftBank and has been closely involved with sales and marketing activities.