Nikesh leads Softbank invasion into Hollywood

  • Reuters, New York
  • Updated: Oct 03, 2014 22:46 IST

Softbank Corp’s investment in a major Hollywood movie studio represents the entry of two new players in the US entertainment industry — the Japanese telecommunications company and former Google-executive Nikesh Arora.

Two months after unexpectedly exiting Google for SoftBank, Arora struck a $250 million deal on Thursday for a minority stake in Legendary Entertainment, which has produced hits such as The Dark Knight and The Hangover.

Earlier, he had tried unsuccessfully to strike a partnership with DreamWorks Animation, sources said.

As CEO of 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 US mobile carrier Sprint and is the largest investor in China e-commerce company Alibaba.

At the search engine giant, Arora oversaw sales, marketing and partnerships, an outsider’s job at a company, where engineering skills are prized above all else.

Arora, who has previously worked with 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.

A representative for Arora declined to make him available or respond to comments. Google also declined to comment.

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.”

At Google, Arora advocated for the acquisition of 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.

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