Ending months of speculation, Sony has officially named Kazuo Hirai as President and CEO, effective April 1st. Hirai replaces Sir Howard Stringer, who will become Chairman of the Board of Directors in June.
Hirai has been in charge of Sony Computer Entertainment for the past few years, since Ken Kutaragi (known as the “Father of Playstation”) stepped down from the role in 2006. For months now, rumours have been circulating that he was next in line for the company’s top job – but even a month ago, the company fervently denied that any such job-shuffling was taking place.
In Stringer’s final statement, however, the move’s been in the works since 2009, when a “new generation of leaders” were chosen to be his management team. One of those leaders, of course, was Kaz Hirai, and Stringer commends him for his “tough-mindedness and leadership skills”.
In typical fashion, Hirai is “grateful” to Stringer and the Sony Board for their confidence:
I look forward to working with everyone at Sony more closely than ever before to build a strong future for our customers, shareholders, partners and employees.
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.
Yotaro Kobayashi, the current Chairman of the Board, is expected to retire at the next annual shareholders meeting in June.