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Kazuo Hirai To Assume CEO Position At Sony

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the moving-on-up dept.

Businesses 52

thomst writes "Cnet's Stephen Shankland breaks the news that Sony will replace the lamentable Howard Stringer with Kazuo Hirai, the (now former) head of its electronics division. Better yet, the changeover will take place on April Fool's Day. Stringer, who was appointed CEO of Sony in 2005, will become Chairman of its board, and Hirai will become a board member. Hirai has been the leader of Sony's consolidated electronics group only since last year. He was in charge of all Sony electronics products, including the Playstation Network, which famously suffered a massive security breach that compromised its unencrypted user data on his watch."

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52 comments

At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppuku (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891427)

I mean, he probably SHOULD...but they're not going to MAKE him.

I just hope Hirai's first speech to the board doesn't include the sentence "I propose we introduce a new propriety format."

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

Zandamesh (1689334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891459)

Nah, It'll probably be something like:
It's a new propriety format! Proprieeeeeetttyyyyyyyyyyyyyy format!

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891615)

The thought of Sony having a particular format for propriety is sort of hilarious.

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (4, Funny)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891517)

Judging by who his successor is I'm not actually convinced that Sony believed Stringer ever made any mistakes as CEO.

Promoting Mr Gaffe Prone Failwhale himself to CEO seems to be the quickest way to finish Sony off, is this really what they had planned? Is this some kind of financial scam that I'm missing the point of where they're making money from Sony's demise?

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (3, Insightful)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891635)

Nope. It's the Dilbert Principle [wikipedia.org] working its magic IRL. Promote the incompetent to limit the amount of damage they can do.

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892419)

I was going to ask if the Dilbert principle had ever been tested to this level before, but then I remembered SCO and answered my own question.

We already know how this ends, it's not quick, and it's not pretty.

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894179)

Truth! I followed the SCO story, thinking that there must be an amazing master plan being hidden by McBride's apparent bumbling destruction of a healthy company. It came as a surprise when McBride was ditched, as this was when I realized that McBride and SCO's board and shareholders were seriously expecting McBrides almost decade long string of consistent failure was going to be replaced by some kind of success.

Come on Sony, don't disappoint me! What's this amazing secret plan that forces you to give the impression of a company being run by a severely autistic couple in the middle of a messy marital breakdown.

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38898891)

Judging by who his successor is I'm not actually convinced that Sony believed Stringer ever made any mistakes as CEO.

Promoting Mr Gaffe Prone Failwhale himself to CEO seems to be the quickest way to finish Sony off, is this really what they had planned? Is this some kind of financial scam that I'm missing the point of where they're making money from Sony's demise?

As a result, all Sony TV's will now be sold with big block V8 engines attached to the back but only 3 cylinders will be usable at any one time. Petrol can be bought from the Sony Petrol Network only. Six months later, Sony will release a "Slim" TV that has a regular V6 engine and as an "Upgrade" to "phat" TV users, Sony will disable 2 of the cylinders and the alternator on the big block V8's.

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (0)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891521)

It'll probably be more like "I promise to bring customer abuse to a whole new level, driving masochists to us like insects to a bug zapper. We shall not only retain the masochistic elements of our customer base, but bring in the MS and Apple customer bases as well!"

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892563)

I think "a new proprietary format" is the first bullet point in the standard "new proposal" powerpoint presentation template at Sony.

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38897385)

Too late.

Sony has already released the new umd.

The playstation vita card.

About the same size as an sdcard, but made by sony, and appropriately more expensive, and less versatile.

Sure, they *could* have just used SDcards and enabled the encryption functionality in the industry standard spec... but they are sony. They gotta "innovate".

Re:At least they didn't make Stringer commit seppu (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38899315)

Nah, seppuku is a little harsh. But it really should cost him a finger.

Apparently (3, Interesting)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891455)

The roadmap to sucess at sony is to take the guy responsible for the biggest fuckup in company history...and make him CEO......

Re:Apparently (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891581)

Remember, that's Japan, and "fuckup" is a very relative and cultural consideration...

Also this is Sony (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891919)

I'm not sure if the explanation is as much "that's Japan" as "that's Sony."

For the last decade (at the very least) Sony has acted like a bad stereotype of the guy obsessed with not losing face, and always being right. Every single bad decision, PR gaffe or just someone from Sony putting his foot in his mouth in an interview, they've dug themselves deeper and deeper just to not admit "ok, it was dumb." They'd rather put the other foot in their mouth too than admit that the first one was a foot after all.

I'm not even sure it has anything to do with Japan per se. While Asians generally are more careful about not losing respect, I don't think they're anywhere near the bad caricature that Sony has become. Plus, I see lots of us westerners doing the same too. I think it's more about hubris and/or insecurity than anything particularly Japanese.

But, anyway, I can actually see some guys at Sony prefer to promote him than admit that he might have said anything stupid ever.

Re:Also this is Sony (1)

WarpedCore (1255156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892527)

Kazuo Hirai is in the position he's at there solely based on his two and a half decades being at the company. He was fed the royal jelly when he left Sony's music group and joined the video game venture in the Playstation 1 era and has been in the running position for top spot at Sony for years now. It's really a question of who's protecting him and why? I mean, he's CEO because he's the last man standing basically. Ken Kutagari, Phil Harrison, and now Howard Stringer have quit, moved on, retired, and whatnot.

Hirai has also been shuffled into a half dozen different positions in the last decade and some of them even were created specifically for him. Sony's been doing a yearly "April 1st" shuffle since at least 2009. Hirai has been progressively working up the ladder around and before this time. It's really hard to say how involved Hirai was in key decisions about the Playstation brand in the last five or six years.

My bet is that he's far from the voice of reason in the executive consensus at Sony and that he may be a large part of the problem. I'm guessing plans enacted years ago regardless of circumstances got him this job. I don't see Hirai going away for good at least in the short term unless the Playstation Vita has a dismal year of sales.

Re:Also this is Sony (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892853)

...It's really a question of who's protecting him and why?...

This is Japan. Japan works on a culturally ingrained seniority system. Japan has the same problem with their Prime Ministers because the oldest, most senior person of the majority party gets the job. The guy who is the most burnt out and has no new ideas. Sony/Japan knows of no other way to select the next CEO then to give it to the guy who has done the right amount of time in the correct career path.

I recently met a friend who has been working for 20 years at one of the larger technical companies in Japan. I jokingly asked him when he would be CEO and he said never. This was because he had 0 chance of being CEO because his credentials out of school weren't the right ones. Abilities and passion are not variables in the decision.

Re:Also this is Sony (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38899355)

I recently met a friend who has been working for 20 years at one of the larger technical companies in Japan. I jokingly asked him when he would be CEO and he said never. This was because he had 0 chance of being CEO because his credentials out of school weren't the right ones. Abilities and passion are not variables in the decision.

He's probably right, but it's hard for us in the US to throw stones. Unless you founded the company, what are the odds you'll make it into the penthouse office if you didn't go to an Ivy League school?

Re:Apparently (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891681)

It's the "World According to Garp" principle. Now that he's overseen a huge disaster, he's been disaster-proofed. I mean, what are the odds he'd have two disasters in a row, right?

Actually, something like that, except sadder (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892111)

Actually, I've seen stuff like that in action, except the (sadder) underlying assumption isn't just that they're now somehow immune, but that they've got experience.

As a trivial example, just think of companies and/or designers who've fucked up two MMOs in a row, and then suddenly get a third, bigger budget MMO to make, because, hey, they're the guys who have experience with making MMOs. And when that turns out to be a fuckup too, hey, lookit all that experience they have making MMOs, someone actually gives them money to make a fourth. (And if you think that that's a totally made up example, and nobody would be that stupid, it's actually the verbatim story of Funcom.)

Though an even better example is Michael Brown of FEMA fame, the guy who majorly fucked up during two disaster recoveries in a row and had to resign... consulting as a disaster recovery expert afterwards.

Re:Apparently (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38893787)

I've actually met Kaz before as a former Sony employee. There has already been a massive attrition in Sony Network Entertainment in the US. Now Kaz can spread that to all US Sony business units. The American staff should really rejoice at this. They will be better for it in the long run.

Sony to customers: (2, Funny)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891477)

"Okay, lets get this over with. Assume the position."

Re:Sony to customers: (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892861)

"Okay, lets get this over with. Assume the position."

Not quite sure why this was modded Troll. The fact that Sony has promoted the guy in charge of the most recent (of many) customer-hosing screwups definitely says a lot about their attitude toward said customers. They ought to start shipping some lube with their products.

punish wrongdoers by... (1, Troll)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891569)

...promoting them? Is Sony a bank now? Did I blink and miss something?

Re:punish wrongdoers by... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891625)

Well, it makes sense given their business model, which goes something like:

1) Abuse customers
2) ???
3) PROFIT

Guessing #2 is PR Lies, but not sure.

Re:punish wrongdoers by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38892457)

Maybe I missed something in TFA, but it seems as though Mr. Head-Of-Electronics-For-The-Last-Year would mean that he was only around for a couple months before the big security breach.

As such, it seems unreasonable to assume that he had a major part of the screw-ups that happened, aside from a lack of disclosure to the general public.

He did however manage to oversee the plugging of various security holes across their server infrastructure and the game consoles that they manufacture (no longer theirs).

Bring back Kutaragi. (0, Troll)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891623)

The ship is burning. Vita looks like a wreck. Bring back Kutaragi. The only guy at SCE with taste.

I wonder how Kutaragi would do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894313)

Kutaragi seemed to not appreciate the difficulty of programming the Cell processor, but to his credit, the PS2 was also hard to program and offered performance to those whom tuned, but the high sales volumes made it worthwhile for the programmers spend the extra time. Was it a big stretch to believe the console market worked that way? Yes, high end games are much more expensive to produce today, but a lot of that is asset creation and marketing, so the extra expense in programmer time is still a tolerable fraction of the game's budget.

Re:I wonder how Kutaragi would do. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38900403)

Kutaragi seemed to not appreciate the difficulty of programming the Cell processor

No, he failed to realize one data point does not a trend make. Part of what made the PS2 so popular was the DVD player, as DVD movies offered a lot more functionality over their VHS counterparts, so naturally they were quite popular and being able to get a console and DVD player in one was a no-brainer for a lot of people.

However, Sony(and we can assume Kutaragi) assumed that people will want to upgrade to whatever the newest format is, as long as you bundle it with your console. Thus they pushed Blu-Ray despite the fact that Blu-Ray added a lot of extra cost to the unit for very little benefit. Unlike the VHS to DVD transition, where pretty much every single genre of video benefitted, only a select few movies truly benefitted from the HD format, and only then you had to have an HD TV to get any real benefit from it(whereas DVD worked with any old TV). So in the end Sony's decision to include blu-ray in the PS3 delayed it's release, added considerable cost to the unit, and in general gave Microsoft a golden opportunity. Had Sony stuck with a DVD for the ps3 and released it considerably earlier at a much lower price point(the blu-ray was the major hinderance) their dominance in the home console market would probably have continued for this generation and beyond.....thats why execs need to know some basic statistical principles I guess :P

Hirai hits the weakpoint for massive damage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891713)

look out for the giant enemy Stringer.

April Fools... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891823)

Or, as I like to think of it, "the anniversary of the death of OtherOS."

It's Ridge Racer! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891859)

Riiidddgge Raaacceeer!!!!!

enjoy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891931)

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A Perfect Fool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38892081)

Actually April 1 of every year is the start of the Fisical Year in Japan.

So who's the biggest Fool: the Fool or the Fools following the Fool?

April 1st, 2013: Kazuo Hirai Retires (1)

WarpedCore (1255156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892247)

I mean, Sony's consistently used April 1st for the effective date of corporate restructuring annually since 2009 (at least). Let's at least use this opportunity to bet on who gets axed next season.

Re:April 1st, 2013: Kazuo Hirai Retires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38898125)

They've also used April 1st as the effective date of screwing over their customers. April 1st, 2010 was when they removed OtherOS.

I'll say it. (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892327)

I like Sony's gaming (SCE's) products far and above the other gaming products I have ever owned (including 3 Xbox 360's, on my first day one PS3 still) - Nintendo, Sega, Atari etc.. You name it I've owned and played it. The spec and build quality of my PS3 is second to none of this generation. The rootkit fiasco - despicable, but a different part of Sony. And the account hacks - well Sony and many others have been hacked with the loss of sensitive user information, so probably not fair to pin that on Sony alone. If you don't want your details hacked, I'm afraid there are very few people you can trust out there anyway (perhaps other than the major banks and I wouldn't be so sure about that either). Anyway, karma be damned. *whistles*

Re:I'll say it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895427)

Take your Sony-branded rose coloured glasses off for five minutes and realize the reason Sony gets pinned to the wall for things like massive security failure is because they wave around security benefits as justification for rootkits, removing features people paid for, highly restrictive DRM and the like.

But no, so long as you are happily playing your games repeated breach of trust in the name of profit doesn't bother you...

Re:I'll say it. (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896579)

Get over yourself AC - why, if you believe what you are saying don't you log in and say what you mean as yourself.. But then I'm the one feeding the troll aren't I? There's so much shit going on in this world that is so much worse than any of Sony's transgressions, so forgive me if I enjoy putting them on and enjoying something for what it is.So fuck off.

Sony partners closely with Google for phones, (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894911)

yet fights tooth and nail [livejournal.com] to keep people from using it legitimately for their movies where others allow it.

Re:Sony partners closely with Google for phones, (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 2 years ago | (#38897739)

"Sony" is an umbrella that contains many relatively independent operations. Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Records, Sony Pictures, and their chip foundry operations are all effectively independent.

April 1st (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896645)

The Japanese fiscal year runs from April 1st to March 31. April 1st is when you begin the school year (from kindergarten to grad school), when you begin a new job, the accounting period both for private companies and the state, research funding period and so on and so on. What would be extraordinary is if you have a shuffle at the top at any other time than April 1st.

Re:April 1st (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903893)

No, what's extraordinary is that most of the world (including east asia, even china and south korea) are familiar with april fools' and not Japan. It's as if the nation - not the people who comprise it, but literally the state of Japan is mildly autistic.

Kaz Hirai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38897789)

If anyone doesn't remember, Kaz Hirai is the guy who gave Sony's laughably bad E3 2006 presentation [youtube.com] , featuring such great quotes as "Five hundred and ninety-nine US dollars," "Riiiiidge Racer!!!," "Giant Enemy Crab," and "attack its weak point for massive damage."

A Fool's Fool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38899877)

We might read, 1 April 2013, Kazuo Hirai gunned down by Yakuza hitman while leaving all-male Pachinko Palor in Kabukiza.

Yakitori za.

Kazuo Hirai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911869)

Should never have lived.

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