Kaz Hirai Stepping Down as Sony CEO

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Kaz Hirai Stepping Down as Sony CEO

Kaz Hirai, the man who saw PlayStation through its most trying times and brought Sony back from the brink, will step down from his post as CEO of Sony on April 1, the company announced on Friday. He will become the chairman of the company, while CFO Kenichiro Yoshida will replace him as CEO.

Hirai has held the top position at Sony since 2012, but he started with the company in 1984. He rose to prominence after joining Sony Computer Entertainment America in 1995. SCEA oversaw the development of the PlayStation, and Hirai became president and COO of SCEA in 1999, just ahead of the release of the supremely successful PlayStation 2 console.

In 2006, Hirai took the reins of Sony’s worldwide gaming business in the lead-up to the PlayStation 3’s reveal and release. It was a bumpy start, as one of the first memories of his tenure was his futile attempt during Sony’s 2006 E3 presentation to justify the $600 price of the PlayStation 3 at launch. He was also the face at the forefront of Sony’s apologetic efforts in the face of a massive security breach of the PlayStation Network. The breach exposed the private information of some 77 million accounts and Hirai bowed on live television alongside other Sony executives in apology to those effected.

Hirai’s time as top dog at Sony saw the reemergence of the PlayStation brand with the release and success of the PlayStation 4. The console has sold upwards of 73 million units to date, and all four PlayStation home consoles released under Hirai’s watch rank in the top ten in all-time sales.

He was also known to let loose and have some fun when the time was right.

Hirai’s statement regarding his change in position is below.

Ever since my appointment as President and CEO in April 2012, I have stated that my mission is to ensure Sony continues to be a company that provides customers with kando – to move them emotionally – and inspires and fulfills their curiosity. To this end, I have dedicated myself to transforming the company and enhancing its profitability, and am very proud that now, in the third and final year of our current mid-range corporate plan, we are expecting to exceed our financial targets. And it excites me to hear more and more people enthuse that Sony is back again. As the company approaches a crucial juncture, when we will embark on a new mid-range plan, I consider this to be the ideal time to pass the baton of leadership to new management, for the future of Sony and also for myself to embark on a new chapter in my life. My successor, Kenichiro Yoshida, has supported me closely since returning to Sony in December 2013 , contributing extensively beyond his remit as CFO and acting as valuable confidant and business partner, as we took on the challenge of transforming Sony together. Mr. Yoshida combines a deeply strategic mindset with a relentless determination to achieve defined targets, and the ability to take a global viewpoint. I believe he possesses the breadth of experience and perspective, as well as the unwavering leadership qualities required to manage Sony’s diverse array of businesses, and as such is the ideal person to drive the company forward into the future. As Chairman, I will of course offer my full support to Mr. Yoshida and the new management team, and do all I can to facilitate a smooth transition and ensure their future success.