Yahoo to rejig top deck, Nikesh Arora may step into CEO boots

As Google’s senior vice-president and chief business officer, Arora is the “guy in charge of making money.” Google recently reported that its quarterly profits were up by 17 percent from 2010.

Yeung April 26, 2011 08:19:40 IST
Yahoo to rejig top deck, Nikesh Arora may step into CEO boots
Yahoo to rejig top deck Nikesh Arora may step into CEO boots

Google senior VP Nikesh Arora. Carl De Souza/AFP

After the news of Yahoo’s weak earnings broke last week, Silicon Valley was atwitter about a leadership shakeup at the digital media company.

Regarded tech-biz journalist Kara Swisher of All Things Digital came up with a number of potential scenarios, including the ouster of CEO Carol Bartz. Her short list of those who could step into the Yahoo corner office was swiftly circulated by various media outlets.

Among Swisher’s picks: Delhi-raised Nikesh Arora. (He’s in good company: Akamai president and Yahoo board member David Kenny, Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson, and News Corp.’s chief digital officer Jon Miller, also made the cut.)

As Google’s senior vice-president and chief business officer, Arora is the “guy in charge of making money.” Google recently reported that its quarterly profits were up by 17 percent from 2010.

But not everyone is smitten with Arora. Forbes blogger and shareholder activist Eric Jackson thinks Arora is “not that impressive” on earnings calls. And when Arora first took the stateside job at Google as its global sales chief in 2009, much was made of his overly analytical, by-the-biz-school-textbook approach. His hardball style even led to his nickname as the Darth Vader of Google.

But Arora survived the transition of power at the company earlier this year when CEO Eric Schmidt handed the reins to cofounder Larry Page (though there’s also chatter that Arora might not last long under Page due to conflicting business styles).

Lots of fodder for speculation, and we’ll keep our ear to the ground for official announcements. In the meantime, just who is Nikesh Arora?

According to his official bio, Arora studied electrical engineering at the Institute of Technology in Varanasi, and left India for the United States in his early 20s for graduate schools (he earned a master’s degree from University of Boston and an MBA from Northeastern University). Before joining Google in 2004, he held management, marketing, brand development, and analyst positions for companies such as T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, and Fidelity Investments.

News reports note that his father was a financial planner for the Indian Air Force; his mother earned a master’s degree in math. He also appears to remain true to his roots: He loves movies, sweets, and judging from his Twitter account, watching a good game of cricket.

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