In 2015, he was named potential successor by SoftBank's Masayoshi Son. Fortune has previously christened him as India's "Elvis of business". And now Nikesh Arora is hogging the headlines for the fat pay packet worth about $128 million that he has bagged in his new job as CEO Palo Alto Networks Inc, reportedly making him one of the highest-paid US executives.
But a lot of that is linked to equity. According to Bloomberg, the 50-year-old is entitled to equity awards worth as much as $126 million as the head of the California-based cybersecurity company. So he will be getting $1 million as base salary annually and an identical amount as target bonus, plus $40 million of restricted stock vesting over seven years. The report added that Arora also stands to receive stock options valued at $66 million that will vest in increments if Palo Alto Networks' shares climb at least 150 per cent. If the stock quadruples, he is in for a windfall - he gets all of them.
Then again, fat pay cheques are nothing new to the man. In 2012, Arora was Google's highest paid executive. As the person instrumental in growing Google's search business from $2 billion in revenues to over $60 billion in revenues, he had certainly earned it. Then, Reuters pegged his earnings during the two-year stint at SoftBank at a cool $200 million - although he ended up selling $500 million of SoftBank shares to Son at a small loss.
Significantly, Palo Alto Networks will reportedly also match the $20 million Arora is investing in it personally - buying its shares as proof of commitment - via restricted shares that will vest over four years. Pocket change really for the cybersecurity firm, a global leader in the space with a market cap of $18.93 billion currently. On Monday, the company announced strong fiscal third quarter 2018 results, with total revenue jumping 31 per cent year-on-year to $567.1 million and billings growing 33 per cent to $721 million.
"The company is executing extremely well and is the clear leader in next-generation security. Over the course of several quarters, I have been discussing succession planning with the Board and I couldn't be more pleased that we have found a leader in Nikesh who is ideally suited to take the company on the next leg of its journey," said Mark McLaughlin, whom Arora succeeded today. McLaughlin led the company for nearly seven years and played a major role in its torrid pace of growth - its shares jumped five-fold since its initial public offering in 2012. He is now the vice chairman of the Board.
It will be interesting to see where the company goes under Arora's watch. "I am thrilled and honored to join Palo Alto Networks. I have developed a deep appreciation for the company's culture, values and pioneering spirit as innovators and disruptors and I look forward to working with the entire Palo Alto Networks team on our mission of protecting our customers in the digital age," Arora said in a statement.
With Reuters inputs