Sony CEO Kaz Hirai Steps Down

Chief financial officer Kenichiro Yoshida will assume the role of CEO on April 1

Last Updated: February 1, 2018 @ 10:04 PM

Kaz Hirai, President and CEO of Sony since 2012, is resigning his post and will be replaced by Sony CFO Kenichiro Yoshida, the company announced Thursday night.

Yoshida will assume his new role effective April 1. Hirai will transition to a chairman emeritus position.

The 57-year-old Hirai presided over Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in 2014, when the company suffered the worst cyberattack in U.S. corporate history — a hacking scandal that saw thousands of personnel records and damaging emails from executives released.

It’s unclear what immediate effect the leadership change will have on the company’s American assets — which were rumored to be up for sale last year, when Lynton stepped down and Tony Vinicquerra came on board to manage the film and TV groups.

Control of Sony Music was removed from the purview of the Sony Entertainment CEO role. That group is now managed by Rob Stringer, who recently assumed the job from longtime executive Doug Morris.

Sony has essentially rebounded after a long and troubled road back from the hack. Thanks to the blockbuster success of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” big-screen TV and video game sales the company posted $18.2 billion in earnings last quarter. Sony Pictures specifically posted a 140 percent gain year-over-year with $68 million in operating income.

The film unit is enjoying unexpected staying power with “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” — a family franchise reboot that is currently at $340 million domestic after nine weeks in release. Sony Pictures, run by Tom Rothman, also baffled industry watchers by landing the new Quentin Tarantino film following the director’s separation from the disgraced Harvey Weinstein. The project surrounds the Manson Murders and will star Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio.

A spokesperson for Vinciquerra did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

In a statement, Sony said it was Hirai who proposed stepping down as CEO; Sony’s Board of Directors approved the plan at a meeting held earlier Thursday.

“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,” Hirai said in a statement. “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,” Hirai’s statement continued, “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.”

Hirai also said in his statement that 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.”

“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.” Hirai’s statement concluded.