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Former Google executive likely to become SoftBank's next CEO

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Masayoshi Son has essentially chosen his successor

Nadine Rupp/Getty Images

Today, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son named ex-Googler Nikesh Arora as the new president of Japan's telecom giant, and went so far as to designate him as a potential successor. "He’s 10 years younger than me, and he has more abilities than me," the fascinating SoftBank founder told reporters. "The last nine months I’ve spent with him have made me sure of that, but I’m not going to retire soon," he said.

The billionaire will pass off the president role to Arora on June 19th, marking the first time anyone other than Son has held that position at SoftBank. Arora joined the company less than a year ago, but he's got a strong résumé; before he was brought on at SoftBank, Arora spent a decade at Google and rose through the company's ranks, departing as senior vice president and chief business officer in July 2014.

"I won’t be retiring yet, and Nikesh may pass away tomorrow in a car accident."

SoftBank owns an 80 percent stake in US wireless provider Sprint, and has tried to reverse that carrier's ailing position by installing a new CEO and getting more aggressive on data pricing. Apart from running its own massive mobile business in Japan, SoftBank is also the largest investor in China's sprawling Alibaba marketplace. Arora will be tasked with overseeing this portfolio, leaving the enigmatic Son to steer his company's overall direction and robot experiments. But even Son joked that Arora isn't (yet) guaranteed the top spot.

"I won’t be retiring yet, and Nikesh may pass away tomorrow in a car accident," he said. "I can’t comment on when and in what form, but I’m certain that he is the primary candidate to succeed me." SoftBank announced the senior management news after reporting a strong fiscal year that beat forecasts. But the company's founder emphasized that it's looking outside Japan to keep momentum up. "From now on, our focus will be set overseas. We will be a global SoftBank," said Son.