One of Sony's old PlayStation pitchmen will soon be running the entire company. Kaz Hirai will officially take the reins as president and CEO of Sony on April 1, 12 months after taking charge of the company's consumer products and devices group. Howard Stringer, the current president, will become chairman of the board of directors sometime in June.
Hirai's promotion had been rumored for some time; his promotion to executive deputy president in charge of the company's largest division last year was widely seen as part of the company's succession plan. At the time, Stringer said, "This is an opportunity for the board to watch Hirai-san and judge his performance. There may be other candidates, but he has a leadership position."
As recently as last month, Sony denied speculation Hirai was to get the top job. Nikkei reported that Hirai was set to become president imminently, and the firm issued a statement after a Nikkei article saying "nothing has been determined at this time."
Hirai joined Sony in 1984 as part of its music group. In 1995, he transferred to Sony Computer Entertainment America, where he was instrumental in launching both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, and he eventually became its president and CEO. In a 2006 management shake-up, Hirai replaced Ken Kutaragi as president of Sony Computer Entertainment International, where he helped turn around the then-money-losing PlayStation business.