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Business News/ Companies / People/  'From IIT-BHU graduate to world's best paid executive': Nikesh Arora's journey to billionaire club
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'From IIT-BHU graduate to world's best paid executive': Nikesh Arora's journey to billionaire club

An electrical engineering graduate from IIT-BHU, Nikesh Arora has made a special place for himself in the tech world with companies opening their purses to retain a talent like him

Nikesh Arora, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (Bloomberg)Premium
Nikesh Arora, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (Bloomberg)

Nikesh Arora is known to get substantial paychecks during his tech career, in fact, he is one of the few non-founder tech executives to enter the billionaire's list. He worked with the biggest companies in the world and is touted as the world’s best-paid executive. An electrical engineering graduate from IIT-BHU, Nikesh Arora has made a special place for himself in the tech world with companies opening their purses to retain a talent like him.

Google's highest-paid executive in 2012

Nikesh Arora became the highest-paid executive of Google in 2012 when the company hired him on a $51 million package. By the end of his time at the Silicon Valley-headquartered company, Nikesh Arora collected stock awards worth at least $200 million.

Masayoshi Son's successor

Upon being recruited by Masayoshi Son of SoftBank Group in 2014, Nikesh Arora set a new record in Japan with a remarkable first-year compensation package of $135 million, a Bloomberg report said. With the SoftBank paycheck, Nikesh Arora became the world’s best-paid executive. The people in the company saw him as the successor of legendary investor Masayoshi Son.

Riding on cybersecurity rally

Nikesh Arora's latest stint as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks helped him enter the billionaire list. When he was hired, Nikesh Arora received a stock and options compensation package worth $125 million, boosting his overall net worth which touched $1.5 billion as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

One thing Nikesh Arora has been very consistent is his performance as a major portion of his ownership interest in Palo Alto Networks is tied to over 3.4 million options that were granted to him upon his commencement with the company. The realization of these options was contingent upon attaining specified share-price objectives, all of which have been successfully met, encompassing the most ambitious target of a 300% increase.

The recent high-profile hacking incidents helped Palo Alto Networks and Nikesh Arora to capitalize on the boom in the cybersecurity industry. The shares of the company quadrupled since 2018 and Arora's stake is now worth $830 million. Last year, Nikesh Arora sold $300 million worth of shares.

Strong performance

The company said that the high compensation to Nikesh Arora is justified as the executive delivers strong performance and "he’d already been able to vest $102 million of value each year."

“Because of this significant vested ownership and the amount that Mr. Arora was projected to vest in over the next several years, the Board determined that a meaningful equity award would be necessary to ensure that such award retains and engages Mr. Arora," the company added in a proxy statement.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 06:23 PM IST
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