Sony CEO Kaz Hirai, Who Formerly Led The PlayStation Business, Has Stepped Down

Hirai is transitioning to the role of Director at Sony, effective April 1.

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Electronics giant Sony today announced a major management shakeup. CEO Kaz Hirai, who previously led the PlayStation business before being promoted, is stepping down.

Taking his place will be Kenichiro Yoshida, who is Sony's current CFO, Director, Representative Corporate Executive Officer, and Executive Deputy President. Hirai will transition to the role of Director, Chairman, in a move effective on April 1. This is no April Fools' joke.

"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," Hirai said in a statement. "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," he added. "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."

For his part, Yoshida said he is grateful to Hirai and the Sony Board of Directors for their "trust and confidence in appointing me as Sony President and CEO."

He added: "Together with the outstanding talent we have across the Sony Group, I will aim to build on the business foundations established by Mr. Hirai, and execute further reform measures that enhance our competitiveness as a global enterprise, and enable us to realize long-term profit growth."

According to Variety's sources, Hirai's decision to step down as Sony's top executive was due in part to how he was "worn down from the travel schedule he's maintained during the past six years as CEO." In his life after Sony, Hirai reportedly plans to spend more time with his family in his California home.

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.

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