Palo Alto names new CEO: Former Googler Nikesh Arora

He's heard of security but groks the cloud at scale and that's what matters

Palo Alto Networks has named a CEO and chairman: former Google and Softbank executive Nikesh Arora.

Arora starts in the role on June 6th, 2018. The company's announcement of his appointment explained that his predecessor, Mark McLaughlin, will remain with Palo Alto as vice-chairman.

Fortune noted that Arora's vote of confidence in Palo Alto is such that he's investing US$20 million of his own funds in the company's stock.

The incoming CEO's ten-year career at Google culminated in his reaching the post of Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer in 2011, with a remit covering the search business, which stood at US$60 billion and 20,000 employees when he departed in 2014.

Post-Google, Arora spent two years as President and COO of Softbank until 2016.

McLaughlin told Palo Alto's earnings call that while Arora's CV lacked specific security industry experience his experience of cloud platforms, software-as-a-service, analytics and the large-scale systems make him a good fit.

Along with a cultural fit and his business leadership, McLaughlin said there aren't so many large-scale platforms in the world, and consequently, there's also a shortage of individuals experienced at managing large-scale platform businesses.

Palo Alto has also bet heavily on that side of its business: its Application Framework, currently in front of 50 early customers, goes production-ready for third party applications in August 2018, and in March, Palo Alto acquired Evident.io to support its API-based cloud security capabilities.

Another recent acquisition, April 2-18's slurp of Israel-based Secdo, will add endpoint detection and response capabilities to Palo Alto's Traps framework.

The company's Q3 2018 revenue was 31 per cent ahead of the same period in 2017 at $567.1 million, and GAAP net loss narrowed from $60.9 million in 2017 to $46.7 million in 2018. Palo Alto expects its full year 2018 billings to pass $2.8 billion, between 22 per cent and 23 per cent above its 2017 result. ®

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