Sunday, 29 April 2012

Akio Morita- The Man Behind Sony

Akio Morita was born January 26, 1921 in the industrial city of Nagoya, Japan. He was born into a family of sake brewers who have been in the business for 14 generations. His father, Kyuzaemon, groomed Akio from an early age to take over the family business.

His education took him from sitting in on his father's business meetings during high school to graduating as physicist from Osaka Imperial University. At the time of his graduation, Japan was involved in the Pacific war and Akio joined the Navy in 1944.

After the war, Akio was packing his bags to join theTokyo Institute of Technology when he read an article by Ibuka in a newspaper column. He went to talk to him and they ended up founding Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (TTK). They financed the business with a 190000 yen ($530) loan and had approximately 20 employees in their bombed out department store.

While Ibuka was responsible for product development and -research, Morita was responsible for their marketing, globalisation, finance and human resources.

Akio wasn't afraid to stick his neck out when it came to challenging 'acceptable' business practices. This was evident in that several of their early products were licensed from American companies and even the visionary name change to Sony (from sonus in Latin meaning sound and the American slang "sonny") was frowned upon at the time by his Japanese contemporaries.

In 1960, Sony Corporation of America was established and in 1961 Sony became the first Japanese company on the New York Stock Exchange through the issuance of their American Depository Receipts. Morita went so far as to move his whole family to America in 1963 in order to learn about their culture and traditions.

Sony introduced various innovative products to America and the world. The famous 'Walkman' has even become part of the standard lexicon (language) of the English world. One of a ton of other products that Sony also introduced that stands out is the VCR, or video cassette recorder.

Akio Morita is remembered in the contribution of Sony. Yet, he contributed in many more ways. He was also chairman of the Japan-U.S. Economic relations Group (or Wise Men's Group) and was up to accept appointment as chairman of the Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) on the day he had a stroke. His stroke prompted him to resign as active chairman of Sony in 1994.

Akio Morita died on Sunday, October 3, 1999 at the age of 78. His wife Yoshiko, his sons Hideo and Masao and his daughter Naoko survive him. He was fiercely strong Japanese businessman who recognized that Sony had to be, and indeed was, made in America.

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