SoftBank ex-president Nikesh Arora : Investors should concentrate on Indian market

Nikesh Arora

Former SoftBank President Nikesh Arora, who was once considered heir to SoftBank empire, said the next market which holds great potential in the world, is India.

“If China could be so successful with over a billion people then may be we should be concentrating on India as it could be the next market to explode in a good way,” said Nikesh Arora in an interview to Bloomberg. Euphoria in India tech industry was driven by China success, he added.

Talking about Amazon commitment to Indian e-commerce market he emphasized that the valuations had run up in the India market, especially in the spaces that were successful in China.

“Amazon’s all out commitment to win the India market had been the big impediment for the local incumbents like Snapdeal. As you’ve seen Flipkart has been able to generate the resources and Snapdeal was unable to do so in the process. I don’t think it’s clear who will win in the long term in India e-commerce sector but what we’ve learnt is that you have to be cautious betting against Jeff Bezos in India,” Arora said.

Amazon has committed $5 billion investment in India.

Arora, who was at Softbank until recently, was Son’s right-hand in making deals, helping to make it the primary financier behind an anti-Uber alliance.

Arora left SoftBank after Son decided to remain at the helm of the company he founded.

SoftBank last this month invested $2 billion into Grab, Uber’s rival in Southeast Asia. In April, it led a $5.5 billion investment in Didi and also sprinkled money into Brazil’s largest ride-sharing startup 99 and India’s Ola.

In India too, SoftBank has been aggressive and making investments at a rapid pace, having closed two massive deals over the past six months. In April, Japan technology-to-telecom conglomerate invested $1.4 billion in Noida-based Paytm, valuing it at about $7 billion.

Recently, Softbank also acquired a $2.5-billion stake in Flipkart, which took its total investments in India to $6 billion.

No talks with Uber over CEO role

Arora denied the reports of him being in contention for the role of Uber CEO. Uber is currently searching for a new leader after its board ousted co-founder Travis Kalanick in June.

He also spoke about Softbank current president Masayoshi Son appetite and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sacking.

Travis Kalanick stepping down as Uber’s CEO was right decision by the board, he said. Somebody had to take responsibility for things going wrong in the organisation.

On the question of Uber achieving what it set out to without its founder, Arora said, the good news for Uber is they have multiple founders who can take decisions after Kalanick.

About Masayoshi, he said Softbank president is a visionary and has a great appetite for risk. “Masa has zero change in his appetite to take risks. He does think with 50 years vision and not believe in short term vision.”

SoftBank CEO Son has also indicated that he’s interested in making an investment in Uber.

Speaking on ride hailing apps around the world, he said they are in their early evolution and should not step into self-driving technology.

Image credit: Bloomberg

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