Two months after unexpectedly decamping from Google for
SoftBank, Arora struck a $250 million deal for a minority stake
in Legendary Entertainment, announced on Thursday. Earlier, he
had tried unsuccessfully to strike a partnership with DreamWorks
Animation, sources said.
As CEO of San Carlos, California-based SoftBank Internet and
Media Inc, Arora is charged with investing in and operating
media and digital media companies, including music, e-commerce
and gaming, said one person close to Softbank. Softbank, owned
by legendary investor Masayoshi Son, owns U.S. mobile carrier
Sprint and is the largest investor in China e-commerce company
At Google, Arora oversaw sales, marketing and partnerships, an
outsider's job at a company, where engineering skills are prized
above all else.
The buttoned-down and polished Arora, who has a masters degree
in business from Northeastern University and previously worked
at T-Mobile Europe, became one of the most powerful Google
executives, and the highest paid in 2012, when he made $51
million in cash and stock.
Several former colleagues described Arora as very effective at
getting results, often by eschewing the collaborative,
consensus-based culture within Google.
“He didn’t really try hard to convince people that he didn’t
need to convince,” recalled one former Google executive, who
declined to be identified. “He would be willing to say 'we need
to do this, get it done.' He valued execution.”
He also had a reputation for being brutally direct, particularly
with people he viewed as unprepared, the former colleagues said.
A representative for Arora declined to make him available for an
interview or to respond to comments about him. Google also
declined to comment.
The Google business chief rubbed shoulders with Hollywood's
elite while selling ads and making deals.
Arora is “perfectly placed” to build Softbank's media portfolio,
said Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of advertising
group WPP, citing Arora’s “knowledge gleaned from his years at
Google about the media community.”
Arora advocated for Google to acquire online movie company
Netflix in 2009, according to one former Google employee who was
present when Arora pitched the idea to Google’s senior executive
team. At the time, Netflix had a market cap of roughly $3
billion, compared to its current $27 billion valuation.
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Arora also proposed at the time that Google should acquire
LoveFilm, a UK-based streaming video company that was later
acquired by Amazon in 2011, the person said.
But the ideas never progressed beyond internal deliberations, as
Google executives at the time were more interested in developing
ad-supported online video through the company’s YouTube website,
the person added.
Arora was a frequent attendee at events frequented by media and
tech elite, such as the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland and the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“He was very plugged in with the top management at Fox and some
of the studios,” recalls one former colleague, referring to
Twentieth Century Fox, which produced the 2013 comedy film 'The
Internship' depicting Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as fictional
When Arora ran Google’s European, Middle East and Africa operations
during his early years at the company, he broke free of the Silicon
Valley-based committee which approved all new hires, according to
several people then at Google.
Arora convinced the company to let him established his own hiring
process, a coup which turned heads throughout the company, the
Arora occupied a large corner office with sweeping views of London,
an anomaly in an egalitarian corporate culture where most employees
work in open cubicles and where even former Chief Executive Eric
Schmidt shared an office with an engineer for several years,
according to the former Google manager.
“He made the argument that he had to meet with important people,”
the person recalled.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Peter Henderson)
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