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The Most Influential People at Sony

During the mid-late 2000s, Sony experienced a series of problems that left the company with a dwindling brand name and stagnant sales. Sir Howard Stringer was replaced by Kazuo Hirai, who introduced a new initiative called “One Sony” to revitalize the company from years of financial losses and bureaucratic management structures. Hirai also made a point of improving the company’s native languages. This initiative has helped Sony turn around the situation, and the company is now on the right track to continue growing and reviving its business.


Kaz Hirai joined the Sony Music Division in 1984. He led the music division’s overseas marketing efforts before transitioning to Sony Computer Entertainment. He replaced Ken Kutaragi as head of the gaming business in 2006 and took over as CEO of Sony in 2012. Hirai spearheaded the “One Sony” initiative, which included introducing PlayStation VR and revamping Sony’s artificial intelligence dog Aibo. He has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Sony’s History” by Fortune magazine.

The news of Sony’s fourth annual loss in five years has the industry wondering if the company is going in the wrong direction. Sony should be enjoying the success of its PS4 video game console and the Xperia smartphone. Instead, it’s reporting its fourth consecutive annual loss, raising serious questions about the future of the company and Kaz Hirai’s future as CEO. While the news has caused consternation, it is still far better than a decade ago.


Idei joined Sony as a young man, and has since become one of the most influential figures in the company. He has been tasked with overseeing the electronics business in the U.S., and has had more direct involvement in the company’s business ventures than any other executive. After his arrival, he has shaped Sony’s international reputation, and has been rewarded with the title of CFO. But what makes him so influential?

In the 1980s, Idei headed up Sony’s video and home stereo component groups, promoting the 8mm camcorder. In 1993, he was named head of Sony’s corporate communications department, and took on responsibility for merchandising, product promotion, and corporate communications. He had the most exposure of any senior Sony executive and had the biggest influence on the company’s image and brand. He remained a high-profile figure within the company, attending electronic trade shows and the Grammy Awards to promote the company.


Ibuka Sony became a national hero for his work for Sony. He married his childhood sweetheart Yoshiko Kurosawa in 1966 and pursued a wide range of interests outside of Sony. He served as chairman of the Boy Scouts of Nippon from 1985 to 1994 and later became president of the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation. He also maintained his ties to Sony by regularly visiting his old office and receiving audio summaries of company reports.

Ibuka began his career in the Navy and then shifted his focus to consumer products. After the war, Ibuka founded Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyusho, which was later merged into SONY Corporation. In his capacity as a defense contractor, he met Morita, who later became the company’s CEO. The two eventually worked together to develop electronic equipment. They later teamed up again to create Sony, and together they established the Sony Corporation.


In 1971, Morita became the cofounder and chief executive officer of the Sony Corporation, serving from that time through 1994. Born into a sake-brewing family, Morita showed a keen interest in technology. He studied physics at the Osaka Imperial University and met fellow graduate Masura Ibuka, who would later become chief advisor to the Sony Corporation. Morita and Ibuka later formed a joint venture to form Sony Corporation. They married on May 13, 1950, and have three children.

Morita moved to the United States in the 1960s, and helped establish the Sony Corporation of America there. There, he created new channels of sales for Sony. In contrast to the Japanese tradition of relying on local dealers, Morita believed that a company should develop direct sales channels to reach a global market. His ideas gave birth to many modern Sony products, including the Walkman portable music player and the video cassette recorder.



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