Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai to step down from his position

2 Feb 2018

Sony centre in Tokyo. Image: Calin Stan/Shutterstock

Kazuo Hirai will step down as president and CEO of Sony in April.

CEO Kazuo Hirai is taking a step back from his role at Sony, the firm he brought back from the brink with the aid of Kenichiro Yoshida, current company CFO.

Yoshida will replace Hirai at the helm of the firm, while the latter will still remain at Sony as its chair.

Working with the company since the 1980s, Hirai has served as Sony CEO since 2012, replacing Howard Stringer. Prior to his appointment as CEO, he took over Sony’s global video games business.

According to the company, he played a “pivotal role in elevating the industry into a hugely significant genre while at the same time making the PlayStation brand synonymous with exceptional gaming and entertainment”.

Sony’s return to form

The joint efforts of Hirai and Yoshida saw Sony sell off its floundering PC business and launch the industry-changing PlayStation 4 console, which has sold tens of millions of units to date. The company also pivoted towards smartphone image sensors, which has also proven to be a success.

Hirai and Yoshida’s measures paid off and were vital to the current resurrection of fortune for the Japanese firm.

Sony is fresh from announcing a record profit of 351bn yen ($3.2bn) for Q4 2017, compared to just 92.4bn yen in 2016’s final three months.

A crucial juncture

In a statement, Hirai said: “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 fulfils their curiosity.

“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.”

Hirai’s endorsement of his successor and trusted business confidante Yoshida for the role of CEO was staunch. “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.”

Sony centre in Tokyo. Image: Calin Stan/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects