Sony chairman Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai has announced his retirement, drawing a 35-year career with the company to a close. Hirai stepped down as CEO a little over a year ago, passing the role to Kenichiro Yoshida, the CFO with whom he orchestrated Sony’s turnaround from a money-losing gadget maker to a profitable company focused on components and the PlayStation business.
Hirai will leave his chairman role on June 18th, but will continue to act as occasional “senior advisor” for the company upon the 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.”
“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’s statement 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 joined Sony’s music division in 1984, later moving to the US to lead the label’s overseas marketing. He moved to Sony Computer Entertainment in 1995 just before the launch of the first PlayStation, and ultimately succeeded Ken Kutaragi in 2006 as the head of the gaming business. In 2012, he replaced Howard Stringer as Sony CEO, spearheading a “One Sony” initiative that streamlined the company’s operations.