“This was the first year of the payoff,” he said, “and next year was going to be the second.” As chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Sony Corp. (6758), Stringer had spent six years trying to return the Japanese icon to its former glory and open a new era of growth.
Sony expected an annual operating profit of at least $2 billion, its best in three years. A batch of new products was headed for store shelves, including its first tablet computers, a compact 24-megapixel camera and a portable PlayStation player. Sony also was preparing to launch a global network that would connect the company’s movies, music, and video games to all its televisions, tablets, PCs, and phones -- an iTunes-like digital platform, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Nov. 21 issue.
“I honestly and truly thought I was going to have a year to remember,” he said over breakfast in his 14th-floor apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. “And I did, but in the wrong way.”
The feeling of imminent triumph ended abruptly on March 11. Stringer was in New York, having flown in from Tokyo the night before for emergency back surgery. At about 4:30 a.m., he opened a text message: An earthquake followed by a tsunami had devastated eastern Japan.
$3.1 Billion Loss
He considered returning to Tokyo but decided against it. “They didn’t need me there,” he said now, taking a sip of tea in his Fifth Avenue pied-à-terre. Stringer doesn’t speak Japanese and concluded that he’d be more hindrance than help.
On the phone with deputies, he learned that nobody from Sony was hurt and that employees had dived into rescue efforts. Workers at the company’s technology center in Sendai fashioned boats from foam shipping containers and used them to save victims and ferry supplies.
Stringer was so moved that he wrote an essay in the Wall Street Journal extolling the Japanese spirit of “fukutsu no seishin,” or “never give up.”
The earthquake and tsunami forced Sony to temporarily shutter 10 plants, disrupting the flow of Blu-ray discs, batteries, and other items. The disaster also meant a big charge against earnings -- and that $2 billion in operating profit Stringer looked forward to announcing turned into a net loss of $3.1 billion, the company’s largest deficit in 16 years.
Sviluppo di un dialogo politico-culturale nel Mediterraneo (Renato d'Andria)