Kaz Hirai steps down as Sony CEO, moves to Chairman role

by XB on 2nd February 2018

in News

In a surprising move, Sony has announced that Kazuo Hirai will be stepping down from his role as CEO (Chief Executive Officer) on 1 April 2018. Kaz has acted as CEO since 2012 and has been widely credited for turning around Sony’s finances with his ‘One Sony’ strategy. He won’t be leaving the company though, he will move to the Chairman role, as did Howard Stringer before him.

Current Chief Financial Offers (CFO) Kenichiro Yoshida has been promoted to CEO, having worked closely with Kaz for a number of years, first in a strategy role before taking the finance role. Yoshida has been behind the ruthless restructuring that the business has been through in recent years. Sony will embark on a new mid-range plan from April, which will be architected by Yoshida. It will be interesting to see how Sony grows from here.

Comment from Kazuo Hirai

“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.”

Comment from Kenichiro Yoshida

“I am very grateful to Kazuo Hirai and the Sony Board for their trust and confidence in appointing me as Sony President and CEO, and at the same time feel a great sense of responsibility in taking on this vitally important role. Together with the outstanding talent we have across the Sony Group, I will aim to build on the business foundations established by Mr. Hirai, and execute further reform measures that enhance our competitiveness as a global enterprise, and enable us to realize long-term profit growth. My first priority will be to finalize our next mid-range corporate plan starting in April, together with our immediate business plan for the fiscal year 2018, and then move ahead swiftly with implementation. This is a hugely exciting time at Sony as we look to our future, and together with my management team I intend to determine the best path for us to move forward, and devote my full effort to creating a better Sony that captures the imagination of our many stakeholders around the world.”

Thanks Andrew, Colby and Diogo!

  • Orion X

    A chairman is technically regarded as a higher position in Asian corporate culture,
    I think whatever the CEO might,he might also have to take into the account of the opinion if the chairman.

    But it will remain to be seen if the Kaz stays around as A chairman for a long time or goes away after one year.

    Briefly :Kaz is now the grand wizard who’ll give wisdom from the sidelines.

  • Hopefully new CEO focus on Sony mobile Communications

  • ტექნოლოგიური სიახლეები
  • Juan Carlos

    Nooo I really like Hirai as Sony’s CEO.

  • Aldi Wan Kenobi

    Thank you Mr. Hirai for making Sony profitable again. Good luck to both of them in their new roles!

    More power to Sony!


  • Talos the Robot

    Kaz was the best CEO Sony ever had! He listened to his customers, he focused on innovative hardware with great software support and in the end Sony offered quality products distinguished from the competition.
    Mr Yoshida comes from an economic background, he cares mostly for the financial indicators, and i am afraid that he wants to make again Sony the arrogant company we don’t want to remember from the past…
    Sorry if i am skeptical but i wouldn’t like Sony to become an Apple wannabe company…

  • Khalid Abdi

    Honestly, I loved Mr Kaz Hirai. He was the best CEO and it’s sad that he is living it, but I hope that Mr Yoshida continues what Mr Hirai was doing because, if it weren’t him, Sony would have failed.

  • Khalid Abdi

    BTW, Mr Hirai was charismatic man, a leader and good face of the company.

  • Dante the great

    Why? I don’t see the logic in replacing a successful CEO, except maybe Kaz had other reasons for stepping down. He is the best CEO Sony has had in a while. He will be missed.

  • RockStar2005

    Yoshida was quoted as saying (in one article):

    “Mr Yoshida said he wanted to build on the management foundation created under Mr Hirai’s leadership to “improve Sony’s competitiveness as a global company.”

    I REALLYYYYYYYYYY hope that means finally making Sony Mobile a real competitive FORCE in the U.S.!! It seems like they’re already doing that now in 2018 with the XA2 coming out with a metal body (not plastic), a working FS (U.S. site is advertising it, so I believe it will be fully functional), and a great price ($350)! Not to mention a great camera, a bigger (5.2″ vs. 4.6″) and better (1080p not 720p) screen, and a BIGGER battery as well! It seems like the issues ppl had with their previous mid-rangers are being eliminated all at one time. It would be even nicer if they went 18:9 on the XA2 but I think that’s coming later this year on the XZ Pro. Oh and also ensuring the phones are T-Mobile VoLTE-certified. But again, I think that is coming soon too, at least on the flagships.


    The XA2 Ultra even comes with a DUAL selfie cam with OIS too!


    If this is all an indication of what’s to come, then we are in for a real treat!

  • RockStar2005

    Yes, HOPEFULLY! lol

  • RockStar2005

    It seems like Kaz and Yoshida worked closely together per the article above, so I think Yoshida won’t disappoint. With all the improvements they’re making to the XA line, it seems like they’re finally headed in the right direction.

  • RockStar2005


  • Alvin

    I love him. Together with Yoshida, Kaz have improved Sony image and financial situation significantly. But I think he isn’t willing to take risks. I hope Yoshida has the same passion as Kaz but willing to take huge risks.

    We should be happy for both of them since they both are stepping up, not down (Yes, Kaz too!).

  • iia3ezu

    Good riddance.

    The Japanese are polite, but make no mistake about this: he got fired.

  • singh

    Kaz has done great job, and Sony finally come back as premium brand, all departments especially tv and audio did well, Sony have took the 4k HDR TV market here in the UK, between LG and Sony they have 50 percent share in the premium segment, and Samsung has lost ground. Kaz did great job and it seems the Xperia range is going in the right direction, been chairman he will still have the final say on input and decisions.

  • Khalid Abdi

    I hope so

  • mixedfish

    He got fired for lifting the stock price by 5X since his debut?

  • Battal

    SONY should be more flexible, it’s rigidity gonna make it lose more…

  • Carney3

    Unfortunately they did not commit to supporting the XA2 for two full years; only flagships get that treatment.

    Since Sony lacks sales outlets via the carrier stores, its buyers must pay full price up front. Cutting off support in less than two years is a shoddy way to treat people who have gone out of their way to buy your product.

  • Carney3

    Xperia Wishlist

    Make the Sony logo bright again as in the Z series, not dulled. Put it on the back of the phones as well (not just the Xperia logo), again as with the Z series.

    No more glass backs.

    Have metallic sides, like with the Z2.

    FULL size SD card slots. There’s no excuse, with advances in miniaturization, for imposing those annoying micro SDs. Enable easy transfer of data between phone, camera, PC, PlayStation, etc.

    Bring back the Xperia Play, with PlayStation branding. Or have a modular attachment that does the same thing.

    PlayStation Wishlist

    Xross Media Bar.

    Full backward compatibility with PS1, 2, and 3 disks.

    Full compatibility with CD, Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays.

    A standard, AV component look with a piano black squared off chassis, shiny silver Sony, PS, and spelled out (in the classic font) PlayStation logos. No weird shape like the lozenge shaped PS3 or the step-pyramid PS4.

    PC wishlist
    Buy back and bring back VAIO PCs.
    Bring back boot to web (Chrome OS style) and boot to XMB options.
    Make pre installed Linux instead of Windows an option like Dell.

    Consumer electronics
    New corded and cordless landline phones, full featured.
    New laptop-style Blu-ray, DVD, and CD player, with XMB.
    Printers. That don’t try to milk you for overpriced ink. OK to make the up front price more expensive to compensate.

  • RockStar2005

    I’m hoping THIS is the year they finally return to selling through carriers like T-Mobile again. At least for their flagships.

    Actually I bought the X Performance on Amazon 2 years ago using my Prime Store Card and was able to get 1 year to pay it off. So that’s one option too. But I agree……they will never succeed here without carrier support. The charts I’ve seen show their sales plummeted when they stopped doing that in 2014/2015.

  • Carney3

    Even better, I would love it if they revived the Apple Store style Sony Stores they used to have. There are a few left but many closed their doors.

  • RockStar2005

    Oh yeah. I totally forgot about those! Used to have one at the mall near me, which is one of the largest in the country. Yeah those + carrier support would be wicked!

    I WISH the one by me was still open. I didn’t really appreciate Sony phones until after they shut that one down. Come on Sony!! lol

  • aseuss

    According to Kunitake Ando, former President and COO at Sony, Steve Jobs (who used to visit Sony HQ) asked them in the nineties why the hell you would you spend money on brick-and-mortar stores when you could just sell direct. Ando answered that you have to show what is possible with your products, show people how your products fit into their lives. It was about culture, about style…hence ‘SonyStyle’. VAIO was all about that culture–and, in fact, Jobs pressed Sony to put MacOS on VAIO. Sony declined, and years later, closed nearly all of its Sony stores. Basically, Sony lost its vision. That is why I don’t like its current leaders. They’re bean counters, and good ones at that, but they lack vision.

  • aseuss

    You are correct, Kaz never wanted to take risks. Yes, he was a good steward. But he didn’t take risks, so he didn’t have a vision. And that’s what Sony needs. He never made a bold push to put a Sony product front and center. I remember, a few years back when the Xperia Z5 was coming out, Forbes writer Ewan Spence said that Sony just needs to go BOLD. Just get behind the product, and stop with this nonsense of quietly releasing stuff and not advertising and not promoting and not having carrier support, and somehow expecting people to find out about it. Tomi Ahonen, whom Fortune magazine named the top mobile analyst of the year, said something similar about the Z3–he said it was actually better than the iPhone and that Sony needed to hire a real marketing guy–“Hire an American”, he said. (PS4 did do well, because they got a powerful American marketing team–in fact, PS4 is run from California.) But Sony never did such things. Never got behind product. That goes for all its stuff, from tablets to VAIO (when they still owned that) to their action cams. It all goes back to Sony management. They’ve gotta create these initiatives. Heck, they got Tony Hawk to use their action cams….but never put him in ads or anything. Again, management has to set the stage. I just hope this new CEO goes bold.

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