Sony Corp. on Wednesday announced that Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai, a long-time veteran of Sony Computer Entertainment, has been appointed as president and chief executive officer, effective April 1, 2012. The appointment another major change for Sony and a likely shift of the direction of the company. Howard Stringer will become chairman of the board of directors in June, 2012.
Kazuo Hirai was born in 1960 in Tokyo, Japan, and travelled a lot with his father when he was young. He graduated from International Christian University in August 1984 with a bachelor of liberal arts degree. Mr. Hirai held various positions at Sony, most notable of which are his roles in the PlayStation business, where he was very successful in popularization of the PS series of consoles in the U.S. and then around the world. Kazuo Hirai has successful multi-continental experience in the most critical segments of the market, including consumer electronics, content, video games, networked entertainment and others.
“Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature. I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead. I look forward to helping Kaz in every way I can so that succession leads inevitably to success. It was my honor to recommend him to the board for the positions of president and CEO, because he is ready to lead, and the time to make this change is now,” said Howard Stringer, chief executive officer and president of Sony.
The times for Sony nowadays are more than challenging. Back in the days the company had to compete against other makers of consumer electronics and what it needed was to make high-quality products while maximizing its profitability by offering certain features. Today, simply good hardware with exclusive functionality is clearly not enough as products should form eco-systems to be successful. Creating a unique Sony eco-system while maintaining compatibility with Google Android and Microsoft Windows platforms is an extremely challenging task and, perhaps, only Mr. Hirai can actually succeed in this.
“The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and game; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains. The foundations are now firmly in place for the new management team and me to fully leverage Sony’s diverse electronics product portfolio, in conjunction with our rich entertainment assets and growing array of networked services, to engage with our customers around the world in new and exciting ways,” said Kaz Hirai.
Mr. Stringer will continue as chairman of Sony Corporation until his ascension to the board chairmanship, which will become effective upon board approval following the annual meeting of shareholders in June, when the current chairman, Yotaro Kobayashi, will retire. Mr. Hirai is also expected to be appointed to the board at the June shareholders meeting.
“The Board is grateful to Sir Howard Stringer for all he has done to help Sony travel such a long and vital way down the road from an analogue to a digital company. He has clearly recognized the importance of connecting our tremendous products with networks and content so that our devices come fully alive in the hands of consumers. We agree with Sir Howard that Kazuo Hirai is the right man at the right time to lead Sony. He has a unique capacity to inspire people, to build teams, to make the tough decisions, and to think with clarity and foresight about the challenges we face and how to surmount them. We are also pleased that Sir Howard has accepted our request to remain with Sony after June as chairman of the board of directors,” said Yotaro Kobayashi, chairman of the board.