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Sony’s Kaz Hirai to step down as CEO

Former PlayStation boss will stay on as chairman

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Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai will leave his role as president and CEO of Sony on April 1, the company announced today. Sony Corporation has named Kenichiro Yoshida, currently executive deputy president and chief financial officer at the company, as his replacement.

Hirai will continue to serve at Sony as a chairman and sit on the board of directors. Hirai explained his decision to “pass the baton” to Yoshida in a lengthy statement released by Sony.

“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. 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. 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.”

Hirai, 57, has served as president and CEO at Sony since 2012, when he took over for Howard Stringer.

Hirai joined CBS/Sony Inc. (later Sony Music Entertainment Japan) in 1984, where he worked in the marketing of international music in Japan. He joined Sony Computer Entertainment America, the PlayStation division, in 1995 and, four years later, was appointed president and COO of SCEA. In 2006, he took over Sony’s video game business worldwide.

According to Sony, Hirai 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.”

He later became president of the Networked Products and Services Group at Sony Corporation, and in 2011, assumed responsibility for all of Sony’s consumer electronics products and services, and its global software, sales and marketing and design platforms.

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