Sony CEO Kaz Hirai is stepping down

Sony Corporation CEO and giddy PlayStation fanboy Kaz Hirai is stepping down from his role as of April 1 according to a release on the official Sony newswire.

Hirai’s career began in 1984 at CBS/Sony Inc, a company that would later become Sony Music Entertainment Japan where he marketed international music for the Japanese market. In 1995, he made the jump to Sony Computer Entertainment America to work with the then-fledging PlayStation division. During that period, Hirai and the team took The Little Grey Machine That Could from a weird industry disruption to a monolithic brand that boxed Sega out of the hardware market and was dominating the Nintendo 64 — all within its first generation. In 2006, he assumed control of Sony’s worldwide gaming arm before being promoted to Sony CEO in 2012.

In Sony’s own words, Hirai played a “pivotal role in elevating the industry into a hugely significant genre, while at the same time making the PlayStation brand synonymous with exceptional gaming and entertainment.”

Hirai named current deputy president and COO Kenichiro Yoshida as his successor, explaining his decision to step down in the newswire post:

“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.”

With Hirai’s retirement, a huge chapter in video game history comes to a close. So long Kaz, and thanks for all the memes.