Former Google Executive Nikesh Arora Becomes Rare Non-Founder Billionaire

There’s no shortage of entrepreneurs who end up being worth over a billion dollars, but it turns out it’s also possible to make a billion dollars without starting anything of your own.

Former Google and Softbank executive Nikesh Arora is now worth $1.5 billion, making him a rare non-founder billionaire. The bulk of Arora’s wealth comes from being the CEO of Palo Alto Networks, which has seen its stock rise substantially over the last few years. Arora had also made large sums of money when he had previously worked with Google and Softbank.

Arora’s career is one that could serve as inspiration for many executives that never start their own companies, but do well at the ones where they work. Arora had completed a degree in Electrical and Electronics engineering from IIT BHU in Varanasi in 1989, before moving to the US for higher studies. He’d then completed an MBA from Northwestern University and and MS in Finance from Boston College.

His first major role had been at mobile provider T-Mobile, where he ended up being the Chief Marketing Officer after a six-year stint. He joined Google in 2004, and rose up the ranks to become its Chief Business Officer in 2012 — at that point, he was the highest-paid executive at Google. At Google, Arora was receiving a $51 million package, and had also earned himself stock awards worth at least $200 million.

Arora had then joined Softbank in 2014. The role had made him the world’s best-paid executive, where he earned a $135 million compensation package in his first year. Arora was with Softbank in its heyday, when it had launched the world’s biggest venture funds. He had been widely tipped succeeded Masayoshi Son as Softbank’s President, but had stepped down abruptly in 2016 after controversy and an internal enquiry over his Indian investments.

After leaving Softbank, Arora became the CEO of Palo Alto Networks in 2018. Palo Alto Networks is a cybersecurity company that specializes in firewalls and cloud-based security offerings. When he’d been hired, Arora had a compensation package of $125 million that included basic pay and stock grants. But a series of global cybersecurity incidents have raised the demand for cybersecurity software, which has caused Palo Alto Networks share price to soar as a result. As his company’s stock has quadrupled, Nikesh Arora’s Palo Alto Networks earnings are now a whopping $830 billion.

All this put together gives Arora a net worth of $1.5 billion (Rs. 12,000 crore). This makes him one of the richest non-founders in the world. Others in the list include Steve Ballmer, who was the 30th employee at Microsoft and eventually became its CEO, Microsoft’s current CEO Satya Nadella, and closer home, Dmart CEO Ignatius Noronha, who is also worth over a billion dollars. Which just goes to show that founding companies isn’t the only way to become fabulously wealthy — spotting the right opportunities and building a career over many years could get you there as well.