Palo Alto Networks Taps Longtime Google Leader Nikesh Arora To Be Next CEO


Palo Alto Networks has selected the man who helped grow Google's search business from $2 billion to $60 billion to be its next top executive.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based platform security giant announced late Friday that Nikesh Arora will start next Wednesday as chairman and CEO of Palo Alto Networks. Arora will replace Mark McLaughlin, who has held the CEO title for nearly seven years and will move from being chairman of the board to being vice chairman.

"Over the course of several quarters, I have been discussing succession planning with the board, and I couldn't be more pleased that we have found a leader in Nikesh who is ideally suited to take the company on the next leg of its journey," McLaughlin said in a statement.

[RELATED: Palo Alto Networks Doubles Down On Endpoint With Proposed Buy Of Startup Secdo]

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Arora most recently spent nearly two years as president and COO of Tokyo-based conglomerate SoftBank Group, where he sold most of the company's stake in Supercell and Gung Ho Online Entertainment.

Prior to that, Arora spent nearly a decade at Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, working his way up from vice president of European operations to chief business officer for his final 3.5 years at the company. Arora helped grow Google's search business from $2 billion to more than $60 billion and led more than 20,000 employees, according to a Palo Alto Networks statement.

Before joining Google, Arora spent more than four years as chief marketing officer of Bonn, Germany-based T-Mobile.

"I am thrilled and honored to join Palo Alto Networks," Arora said in a statement. "I have developed a deep appreciation for the company's culture, values and pioneering spirit as innovators and disruptors."

Palo Alto Networks also rolled out preliminary results for its fiscal third quarter, which ended April 30, reporting that total revenue climbed 31 percent year-over-year to $567.1 million. In addition, the company reported that product revenue increased 31 percent on an annual basis to $215.2 million, and billings jumped 33 percent year-over-year to $721 million.

The company's stock rose1.34 percent to $211.99 in after-hours trading Friday. That's the highest-ever trading price for Palo Alto Networks since the company went public in July 2012.

Departing CEO McLaughlin has helped Palo Alto Networks evolve from a groundbreaking network security company to a true platform security player with expertise extending into the endpoint and the cloud.

McLaughlin started as Palo Alto Networks president and CEO in August, become board chairman one year later, and held the role of president until August 2016 when it was taken over by then-SVP of Worldwide Field Operations Mark Anderson.

Palo Alto Networks has had a very active 2018 on the mergers and acquisitions circuit. The company in March made one of the biggest purchases in its 13-year history by scooping up cloud services infrastructure player for $300 million, and followed that up one month later by acquiring endpoint detection and response (EDR) startup Secdo.