A day after Softbank Special Committee gave a clean chit to him regarding questionable financial transactions, poor investment performance and conflict of interest, Nikesh Arora, President at the company and the successor to Masayoshi Son has resigned from his position on Tuesday.
Son said he would continue as the CEO of the company. Nikesh, a former Google executive whom Son recruited two years ago, will step down to pursue a different path. “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,” the 58-year-old Son said, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Nikesh Arora joined the Japanese Internet Company in 2014 from Google, where he was the Chief Business Officer.
Nikesh said he will remain as an adviser to SoftBank. “This will allow me to think about my next move,” he said. Arora had led its investment strategy including several Indian startups such as Snapdeal, Grofers, Ola, OYO Rooms and Housing.com, among others.
Nikesh took to Twitter to announce his resignation, and was extremely active on Twitter post his announcement. On responses to questions like whether he will continue to be involved in India portfolio companies and in what capacity? Nikesh tweeted, “Masa and I are still in love with each other. I will support everyone I invested in, and they know that.” On asking whether he will join Yahoo! Japan since he was elected as Board Member of Yahoo by stakeholders today to which he tweeted, “I love YJ! Miyasaka San is great, and I am always there whenever he needs me.”
Nikesh Arora was supposed to be conferred as the President and successor to Masayoshi Son on Wednesday at a Shareholder general meeting. However, Son said now that Nikesh has resigned he wouldn’t be reappointed to his position on Wednesday.
"Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SBG, had been considering Arora as a strong candidate for succession. Son’s intention was to keep leading the Group in various aspects for the time being, while Arora wished to start taking over the lead in a few years’ time. The difference of expected timelines between the two leads to Arora’s resignation from the position of Representative Director and Director of SBG with the expiration of the term of office and his next steps," said a short statement from the company.
Nikesh Arora’s appointment as Softbank President and COO was marred with controversy as New York-based law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner representing unnamed Softbank’s shareholders charged the company with not exercising due diligence in appointing Arora. Also, the shareholders had alleged that Arora was guilty of “series of questionable transactions, poor investment performance and conflict of interest.” The allegations which was made public only in April also called into question Arora's decision to purchase SoftBank stock worth $483 million last year, and called it an attempt by the company to assuage concerns relating to his performance. Arora is one of the world's highest-paid executives with compensation of about $135 million in 2014-15.
A Special Committee was formed in February 2016. It conducted its review with the assistance of independent counsel at Shearman & Sterling LLP and Anderson Mori & Tomotsune. The Special Committee concluded on Monday that “that the claims concerning the conduct of Arora during his tenure at SBG are without merit.”
It’s not yet clear why he decided to quit Softbank post clean chit.
Before joining SoftBank, Arora was a longtime executive at Google, where he oversaw all revenue and customer operations at the internet giant as well as marketing and partnerships. Prior to that, he was the Chief Marketing Officer at T-Mobile Europe.