Long time employee and 6 year President and CEO of Sony Corporation has officially retired.
Kazuo Hirai's career began at Sony Music Entertainment Japan's marketing department in 1984 eventually joining Sony's computer and video game division in 1995 just before the launch of the first PlayStation, and ultimately succeeded Ken Kutaragi in 2006 as the head of the gaming business.
Hirai replaced Howard Stringer as Sony CEO in 2012 saying his mission was "to ensure Sony continues to be a company that provides customers with kando, to move them emotionally, and inspires and fulfills their curiosity."
In February 2018 it was announced that Kaz Hirai would soon be stepping down and move into a director-chairman role. This was confirmed later in 2019 by Hirai himself stating that then-CFO Kenichiro Yoshida, with whom he orchestrated Sony’s turnaround from a money-losing gadget maker to a profitable company, would be taking over the role. This draws his 35-year career with the company to a close.
“Since passing the baton of CEO to Yoshida-san last April, as Chairman of Sony, I have had the opportunity to both ensure a smooth transition and provide support to Sony’s management,” Hirai says. “I am confident that everyone at Sony is fully aligned under Yoshida-san’s strong leadership, and are ready to build an even brighter future for Sony. As such, I have decided to depart from Sony, which has been a part of my life for the past 35 years. I would like to extend my warmest gratitude to all our employees and stakeholders who have supported me throughout this journey.”
Hirai left his chairman role on June 18th 2019, but will continue to act as occasional “senior advisor” upon request of Sony’s management team. “Hirai-san and I have been working on management reforms together since December 2013,” says Yoshida in a statement. “While he will be retiring from both Chairman and our Board of Directors, we look forward to his continuing high-level support to Sony’s management that encompasses a breadth of diverse businesses.”
Hirai's decision to step down was partly because he was "worn down from the travel schedule he's maintained during the past six years as CEO". The ex-CEO now plans to spend more time with his family back in California.