SoftBank announced today that Nikesh Arora, the president and chief operating officer of SoftBank, would resign effective June 22. Nikesh Arora will remain as an adviser to SoftBank for a year.
According to the statement of the firm, the difference of expected timelines between the CEO and founder Masayoshi Son and Nikesh Arora led to Arora’s resignation from the position of representative Director and Director of SBG. Nikesh Arora also explained that Son changed his mind about the succession plan and will be the CEO for another five to ten years. “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,” Mr. Son said.
Mr. Arora joined SoftBank two years ago and he was elevated to president and successor after just nine months. “Since he joined, I can have a high-level discussion for every angle around the future,” Son said.
Son founded SoftBank, a software distributer, in 1981, and rebranded it using the SoftBank name after acquiring Vodafone Group PLC’s Japanese operations in 2006. His early investment in Alibaba was also a success. In 2000, the company invested $20 million to Alibaba, which was then a tiny Chinese e-commerce startup. The $20 million investment is worth about $61 billion now. In 2012, SoftBank acquired Sprint in $22 billion, planning to merge it with T-Mobile, which is not a successful deal and SoftBank declined to the fourth-place mobile carrier since then.
Mr. Arora has been searching for a way to drive future growth since he joined SoftBank, and has spent around $4 billion in investing startups around the world. Arora was questioned regarding some of the deals he participated, his qualifications and his compensation, which was $135 million in 2014 and another $73 million in 2015, which made him one of the highest-paid executives in the world. Son said on Tuesday that the allegations were not the reason for Mr. Arora’s resignation.
“Nikesh is a unique leader with unparalleled skills around strategy and execution. He should be CEO of a global business, and I had hoped to hand over the reins of SoftBank to him on my 60th birthday – but I feel my work is not done. I want to cement SoftBank 2.0, develop Sprint to its true potential and work on a few more crazy ideas. This will require me to be CEO for at least another five to ten years – this is not a time frame for me to keep Nikesh waiting for the top job.” Son said in a statement.