Kaz Hirai
Andrew Gombert/Epa/REX/Shutterstock
Japan

Kaz
Hirai

In his keynote at the Mipcom TV conference last October, Hirai told the crowd that Sony seeks to achieve “kando,” the ability to stimulate an emotional response, in all its efforts. Hirai earned a form of kando from the Sony board in 2016 when it more than doubled his salary, to $4.9 million, making him the highest paid CEO in company history. 

The pay hike was a reward for putting the company back in the black after three consecutive years of losses. Hirai accomplished it through a combination of cuts – including thousands of layoffs and the elimination of its PC business – a renewed focus on gaming, mobile and imaging products, and a restructuring of its TV division, which posted its first profit in 11 years. 

Sony Pictures Entertainment was one of his greatest challenges. He had to spend lots of time in early 2017 in Culver City, where he took on co-CEO duties with departing exec Michael Lynton. But Hirai has tapped Tony Vinciquerra as his replacement, which has done nothing to scotch persistent rumors the division is being prepped for sale, which he long denied. 

The 56-year-old Hirai started out in marketing with Sony Music in Japan in 1984, and in the mid ‘90s segued into Sony’s computer and video game division, Sony Computer Entertainment, where he helped drive the success of PlayStation 2 and 3 and associated gaming titles.

Although Hirai is a native of Tokyo, he was educated at the American School in Japan and traveled extensively in his youth with his father, a wealthy banker, spending time in California, New York and Canada. The result: a loose, energetic style (he’s been known to pepper his speech with the occasional profanity and “alrighty”) that stood in stark contrast to traditional Sony bosses and his predecessor, Welsh-born Sir Howard Stringer, whom he replaced in 2012. Hirai retired from the company in June 2019.

Career

  • Sony Corporation

Education

  • International Christian University (Japan)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

Sony's Kaz Hirai Set for Summer Retirement

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...

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