Sony Corporation has finally confirmed what has been rumored for some time now, that Kazuo Hirai will replace Sir Howard Stringer as the new CEO and President of the company effective April 1, 2012. Hirai has been running Sony’s consumer product business and is currently the executive deputy president and has a been in charge of Sony’s gaming division in the past. Stringer who has been Sony CEO since 2005, will step down and become chairman of the board of directors of Sony effective in June.
According to Stringer, Hirai was being groomed for the position as far back as 2009 and he goes on to say that
“Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature. I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead. I look forward to helping Kaz in every way I can so that succession leads inevitably to success. It was my honor to recommend him to the Board for the positions of President and CEO, because he is ready to lead, and the time to make this change is now.”
Hirai was also not short on good words for Stringer as he has been quoted as saying “As challenging as times are for Sony now, were it not for the strong leadership of Sir Howard Stringer these past seven years, we would have been in a much more difficult position.” Sony has indeed seen tough times, especially in the past year. In 2011, its stock value fell 54% primarily due to a strong yen that has been harmful to exports. Sony also had hits to their supply chains after the March 2011 earthquake and November floods that rocked Thailand, not to mention the hacking of PlayStation’s online network last year that compromised private data for millions of PlayStation network users. 2011 was not a good year for Sony or many other companies for that matter. Hirai appears to be ready to do great things as Sony’s newest CEO when he says “The path we must take is clear:to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains.” Sony failed to fend off the Apple iPod in the Mp3 business, is losing market share to Samsung in televisions, and is having difficulty out competing Microsoft and Nintendo in the gaming market so we will see if Hirai can come and integrate Sony’s TVs and computers with content from its entertainment businesses.