After Raghuram Rajan, it is the resignation of Nikesh Arora, President and COO of SoftBank, which backs startups like OYO Rooms and Snapdeal, that has taken the Indian business community, particularly the startups, by surprise.
On Tuesday, Arora, who was being seen as the successor to SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, said he is stepping down. Masayoshi has said he wants to continue as CEO for longer.
In true startup style, Arora took to Twitter to answer queries about his departure.
He said he will stay until the end of the month but kept a tight lid on his plans.
Still there till Jun 30. Then advisor for an year :). Think they dont mind me keeping it there and i am lazy. https://t.co/qU34yQD36E— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
On why he decided to leave:
No...didn't want to be CEO in waiting past my sell by date :) https://t.co/PRDaQprmyl— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
Masa 2 continue 2 be CEO for 5-10 years, respect that. Learnt a lot. Clean chit from board after through review. Time for me to move on.— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
He reassured that his leaving won’t impact SoftBank’s India investments.
Not really, Masa has been intimately involved in all of them and has true passion for India. Am not going away :). https://t.co/lNveGboIhJ— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
What this means for SoftBank’s investments in India:
Am going to support every investment of Softbank :) .So they wouldnt feel the difference. https://t.co/QzRUnbmbI0— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
If SoftBank’s focus might shift away from India:
No. Masa is as much an indophile as i am. https://t.co/75UPWxnN8v— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
On why SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son would pick him if he had planned to stay in the first place:
Reflection & change of mind as time comes its their prerogative, his creation & intimately linked to his identity https://t.co/T4Fp8JjS8l— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
He responded with humour when asked if might start a “Shark Tank” in India.
Indian TV with its panels seems like a constant shark tank...room for more? https://t.co/uKtXjqD4JX— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
If he regrets any investments:
The nature of investing is wins and losses, as long as wins overweight losses you win. Can't regret the loss.. https://t.co/5O7KPUfHZP— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
More on what India means for him:
Lv india b'cos i was born there, i relate to everything there and its time has come to develop like crazy. https://t.co/FliUZ015Wn— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) June 21, 2016
On Tuesday, Arora announced his resignation from Tokyo-based SoftBank with effect from 22 June and said he will stay in advisory role for a year. The announcement came a day after the bank gave a clean chit to Arora following findings from an internal probe that had alleged conflict of interest in certain investments.
Possible impact on Indian startups
According to a report in the Economic Times, which interviewed 12 industry executives, the impact from the move is unlikely to be as drastic on India's startup ecosystem as it might have been had the decision been taken about a year ago, as SoftBank has slowed investments in the country and not made any fresh deals in the past eight-nine months.
According to media reports, SoftBank has invested nearly $2 billion across six Indian companies, which include InMobi, a mobile advertising network, e-commerce company Snapdeal, grocery delivery startup Grofers, and OYO Rooms.
In an e-mailed statement to HuffPost India, Snapdeal Co-Founder and CEO Kunal Bahl said, “Nikesh has been a great supporter and mentor to our business and we look forward to the same continuing going forward as well. SoftBank will continue to provide financial and strategic support to our company and the transition at SoftBank will have no impact on our business.”
Meanwhile, SoftBank's shareholders appeared unmoved by the move and its stock rose 2.6 percent after the announcement in morning trade, Reuters reported.
According to media reports, SoftBank investors had been unhappy with how Arora had managed some of his overseas deals. According to a New York Times report, investments in start-ups like DramaFever andHousing.com, appeared to have soured.
With Reuters inputs