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Sony’s former CEO Kazuo Hirai announces retirement, bringing big changes to consumer electronics

Sony Chairman Kazuo Hirai, who was the CEO and President of Sony between 2012 and 2017, has announced his retirement from the entertainment giant.

Kaz, who stepped down from his position of Sony’s CEO in April 2018, is best known for his time heading up Sony Computer Entertainment and his role in overseeing the launch of the PlayStation 3 console.

He’s also crediting with turning around Sony’s fortunes, taking the reins in 2012, shortly after the company had lost $6.4B in 2011. Hirai refocused the company on gaming and imaging, and in his last fiscal year at the controls, 2017, the company made $6.7B. Shortly after this, Hirai stepped away from his role as CEO, with Kenichiro Yoshida, previously the CFO of Sony, taking over the company.

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“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,” said Hirai in a statement about his retirement. “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.”

He’s not breaking ties completely though. Hirai will leave Sony on June 18, but will still act as a senior advisor when needed: think of it like the post credits scene in Avengers: Infinity War, when Nick Fury pages Captain Marvel because the situation is desperate.

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“Hirai-san and I have been working on management reforms together since December 2013,” said Yoshida. “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.”

Kirai was in the driving seat for some of Sony’s biggest success in the last few years, with the release of the PlayStation 4 and also the first full-frame mirrorless camera, the Alpha A7, which our camera editor Mark Wilson claims set the standard for the camera industry, with many manufacturers now trying to emulate that success.

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It’s a strong legacy to have, and hopefully Hirai gets a bit of time to relax after 35 years with Sony.

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