After three and a half decades, Kazuo Hirai is leaving Sony, at least in an official capacity. He will still make himself available as a Senior Advisor when called upon by Sony's management team, though by and large, his tenure at Sony is coming to an end, effective June 18, 2019, the company announced on Thursday.
Born in 1960 in Tokyo, Japan, Hirai found employment at Sony at age 24 in the marketing department for the company's music division. He joined Sony's computer and video game division, Sony Computer Entertainment America, in 1995 just prior to the launch of the PlayStation and continued to rise in rank all the way to being promoted to President and CEO in 2012.
He stayed in that position for six years before stepping down and handing the reins to Kenichiro Yoshida, who still holds the title today.
"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. 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 said in a statement.
Kirai is an important part of Sony's history. Under his leadership, Sony was able to bounce back from a $6.4 billion loss in 2011 to being profitable again. In 2017, his final full year as President and CEO, Sony posted a $6.7 billion net gain. It was Sony's most profitable year since 1998.
As Kirai gets ready to depart Sony, the company is still in good shape, with its PlayStation 4 lineup dominating the console landscape. Sony sold over 5.6 million PS4 units during the 2018 holiday season, which pushed cumulative sales of the console to date to 91.6 million units globally.
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