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Sony’s Kaz Hirai Set for Summer Retirement

A bit more than a year after stepping down as CEO of Sony, Kazuo Hirai on Thursday announced that he will be retiring from the company this summer.

While he will retire as chairman of Sony on June 18, the company said he will continue to provide counsel as requested by Sony’s management team, acting as senior advisor for the company.

“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 said in a prepared statement. “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’s tenure with the company started in 1984 at Sony Music Entertainment Japan, but it was his interest in video games that initially propelled his interest in entertainment and launched his career with the company.

In 1995, Hirai joined Sony Computer Entertainment America just in time for the launch of the PlayStation. He helped oversee the launch of the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, after replacing Ken Kutaragi as the head of the gaming business in 2006 and a year later he was promoted to president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment International. In 2012, Hirai replaced Howard Stringer as Sony’s CEO.

Hirai’s decision to step down as CEO in 2018 caught Hollywood by surprise, where he was considered Sony’s entertainment properties loudest and most powerful advocate within the company. 

Hirai decided to step down as CEO in part because he was worn down from the travel schedule he’s maintained during the past six years as CEO, sources said at the time.

He was replaced by Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s CFO and internal head of strategy at the time.

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