Palo Alto CEO Commits to No Virus-Related Layoffs, Gives Up Salary

Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PNW) shares demurred soon after the opening bell on Wednesday, after CEO Nikesh Arora declared he would forfeit his salary and maintain staff as part of the network security provider’s coronavirus response plan.

Arora told the media Tuesday, "We have committed to no COVID-19 layoffs in our company because people are very insecure, people are concerned about whether they’ll have a job once this economic thing comes back around."

To take it a step further, Arora said he, the company and the company’s board would contribute a total of $4 million to a fund to support wage earners, such as cafeteria and security staff, and has asked employees to donate up to $1 million to the pot.

Last year, sources say, Arora’s base salary was $1 million.

Palo Alto has also committed to maintaining head count of CloudGenix, the privately held software-defined wide-area network company it announced Tuesday that it would acquire for $420 million. The deal is expected to close in Palo Alto’s July quarter and to boost its Prisma secure access service edge, or SASE, platform.

Palo Alto employs more than 7,000 people, which includes offices in California, Tel Aviv and India. It is not clear how many CloudGenix employs.

Palo Alto shares have plummeted with the broader economy during the coronavirus pandemic. The stock closed Tuesday’s session at $163.96, down more than 29% from the start of the quarter and more than 32% the past year. Those shares lost $1.56, or nearly 1%, Wednesday to $162.40