Nikesh Arora just became one of the rare non-founder billionaires

Nikesh Arora

The head of Palo Alto Networks is benefitting from the rise of cybersecurity

The world has a new billionaire among its ranks.

Nikesh Arora, the CEO of the cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks, is now worth US$1.5 billion, Bloomberg reported recently. That sum may be impressive enough all on its own, but it’s even more noteworthy because it makes Arora one of the rare non-founder tech CEO billionaires.

Much of the 55-year-old’s wealth comes from his work at Palo Alto Networks. Back in 2018, he was hired by the firm with a US$125 million stock and options compensation package. Since then, cybersecurity software has become more lucrative, Bloomberg noted, thanks to notable hacking scandals at casinos, ports, and Treasury markets. Because of that, the company’s share price has increased to more than four times what it was in 2018. As a result, Arora’s stake in Palo Alto Networks is now worth a whopping US$830 million. (A spokesperson for the firm didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment.)

That eye-popping dollar amount has built on lucrative deals from Arora’s past, catapulting him into the stratosphere when it comes to wealth. In 2012, the businessman became the highest-paid executive at Google, with a compensation package worth some US$51 million. By the time he left the company in 2014, his stock awards totalled at least US$200 million. Arora jumped ship to become the president and COO of SoftBank, where his US$135 million first-year compensation package broke records in Japan and made him the highest-paid executive on the planet.

As long as he stays at Palo Alto Networks—and the company continues to do well—Arora seems poised to retain his billionaire status. His 2023 compensation package included up to 750,000 stock awards that vest once certain performance criteria are reached. Currently, they’d add up to US$220 million, Bloomberg wrote. Those awards were given to Arora in response to his contributions to the company since he joined five years ago, allowing him to vest “US$102 million of value each year,” according to a proxy statement from Palo Alto Networks given to Bloomberg.

“Because of this significant vested ownership and the amount that Mr Arora was projected to vest in over the next several years, the board determined that a meaningful equity award would be necessary to ensure that such award retains and engages Mr Arora,” the company said.

Perhaps it’s time to add some Palo Alto Networks stocks to your portfolio.

Palo Alto Networks

This story was first published on Robb Report USA