Former Google business head Nikesh Arora has been named CEO of Palo Alto Networks | Cyber Security

Nikesh Arora, the former chief officer at Google, has been named CEO and chairman of Palo Alto Networks, replacing longtime exec Mark McLaughlin. McLaughlin will become vice chairman of the cybersecurity company.

After leaving Google in mid-2014, the high-profile exec became president of SoftBank and was heir apparent to its charismatic founder Masayoshi Son. But Arora left two years later amid some controversy.

Since then, the hard-charging exec has been a regular name on lists of possible CEOs for a number of different jobs, including at Uber, as well as at some private equity and investment firms.

Although he does not have a background in , Arora said in an interview today that he was attracted to the job at Palo Alto Networks because it had all the elements that were critical to success today, especially in its platform approach in a fast-growing space.

“I wanted to be in a space I believe in and that is growing over the next decade,” said Arora. “Palo Alto Networks is clearly a leader in an area that has become ever more important to enterprises.”

McLaughlin said that the decade-old Palo Alto Networks now serves 50,000 companies globally and has 5,000 employees. While its business is to help companies protect data, as cyberattacks increase, he said that the move to the cloud will make that more complex. Palo Alto Networks sells a range of products that include firewalls and other tools to prevent incursions of corporate networks by malicious actors, competing with companies like Cisco.

“It is increasingly evident that security will be defined by platform, massive data sets and a very large ecosystem effect,” said McLaughlin.

Arora said that while he had long wanted to become a CEO, he would be working closely with McLaughlin and also co-founder and CTO Nir Zuk. “I may not have a background in security, but with my background as an engineer, I can sit down with Zuk to help guide the next generation of products we can offer,” he said.

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