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Ken Kutaragi

ken kutaragi, ken kutaragi biography
Ken Kutaragi 久夛良木 健, Kutaragi Ken, born August 2, 1950 is the former Chairman and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment SCEI, the video game division of Sony Corporation, and current president and CEO of Cyber AI Entertainment He is known as "The Father of the PlayStation", and its successors and spinoffs, including the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and the PlayStation 3

He had also designed the sound processor for the Super NES With Sony, he designed the VLSI chip which works in conjunction with the PS1's RISC CPU to handle the graphics rendering Kutaragi was closely watched by financial analysts who trace profiles of the losses and profits of the Sony Corporation


  • 1 Early years
  • 2 Career
    • 21 Assessment by industry analysts
    • 22 Seventh generation game consoles
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links

Early yearsedit

Ken Kutaragi was born in Tokyo, Japan His parents, although not wealthy by Japanese standards, still managed to own their own business, a small printing plant in the city As Kutaragi grew into childhood, they actively encouraged the young boy to explore his mechanical abilities in the plant, and he worked after school there Aside from his duties in his parents' factory, Kutaragi was a studious, high-level student; he was often described as a "straight A student"

Kutaragi always had the desire to "tinker", often taking apart toys as a child to see how they worked This curiosity carried from childhood, leading him as a teenager to learn the intricacies of electronics Eventually, in fact, his love of electronics led to him enrolling in University of Electro-Communications, where he acquired an Electronics degree

Immediately after graduation, Kutaragi began working for Sony in their digital research labs Although at the time it was considered a radical decision, Kutaragi felt that Sony was on the "fast track" He quickly gained a reputation as an excellent problem solver and a forward thinking engineer, earning that reputation by working on many successful projects - including early liquid crystal displays LCDs and digital cameras


In the late 1980s, he was watching his daughter play a Famicom and realized the potential that existed within video games At that particular time, Sony's executives had very little interest in video games Thus, when Nintendo expressed the need for a wave-table sound chip for its upcoming new 16-bit system, Kutaragi immediately accepted Working in secret, he designed and built the chip, the SPC700 When they found out, Sony's executives were furious Only with Sony CEO Norio Ohga's help was Kutaragi able to push the project to completion and keep his job

Even while working with Nintendo, within Sony, gaming was still regarded as a fad and something looked down upon Despite this hostile atmosphere to video games, Kutaragi managed to persuade Sony to fund his research into the Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter These efforts resulted a device called the "Play Station", a console that would be compatible with both Super Famicom games and software released on a new format called the SuperDisc Eventually, the partnership between Sony and Nintendo faltered due to licensing disagreements, but Kutaragi and Sony continued to develop their own console Kutaragi later recalled staying up all night working on the console design for several nights in a row "because our work was so interesting"1 Despite being considered a risky gamble by other Sony executives, Kutaragi once again had the support of Norio Ohga and several years later the company released the original PlayStation The success of the PlayStation led to him heading up the development of more consoles like the PlayStation 2, and its successor, the PlayStation 3

The commercial success of the PlayStation franchise makes Sony Computer Entertainment the most profitable business division of Sony Despite being an upstart in the console market against veterans Nintendo and Sega, the first PlayStation displaced them both to become the most popular console of that era The PlayStation 2 extended Sony's lead in the following generation, at one point holding a 65% market share with 100 million units shipped2 Ken was recognized by many financial and technological publications for this success, most notably when he was named one of the 100 most influential people of 2004 in TIME magazine3 and the "Gutenberg of Video Games"

Since 1997, Kutaragi had been favoured to become the next Sony president He enjoyed a close relationship with Sony CEO Norio Ohga, who had backed Kutaragi on the Sound Chip and PlayStation projects4 Ohga's successor Nobuyuki Idei promoted Kutaragi to Deputy Executive President, Sony-Global chief operating officer, and Vice-Chairman in 2003

On November 30, 2006, Kutaragi was replaced as President of Sony Computer Entertainment by Kaz Hirai, the President of SCE America In addition to other management changes, Kutaragi was promoted to chairman of SCEI, and retained his position as chief executive officer of the group5 On April 26, 2007, it was announced that Kutaragi would retire and instead take up the role of Honorary Chairman Taking over his position would be then SCEI president and CEO Kaz Hirai, who would eventually be promoted to president and CEO of Sony6789 On June 29, 2011, following the reshuffling of management, Sony announced that on June 28, 2011, Kutaragi had stepped down as honorary chairman of SCEI Kutaragi relinquished active management of the business he created and built in 2007, when he stepped down as executive Chairman and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment10 He has remained at Sony as senior technology advisor

Ken Kutaragi later became president and CEO of Cyber AI Entertainment, Inc He also serves on the boards of Kadokawa Group Holdings, Inc, Nojima Corporation, and Rakuten, Inc In 2009, he became a visiting professor of Ritsumeikan University1112

Assessment by industry analystsedit

Although Kutaragi's leadership of consumer electronics was not successful, analysts also suspect that outgoing Sony CEO Nobuyuki Idei had set up Kutaragi to fail, given that both men had a cool working relationship Idei assigned Kutaragi the tedious task of turning around the consumer division which had already been falling behind competitors such as Samsung in the LCD market4 Kutaragi's rival for the top position, Howard Stringer, was given the less difficult assignment of the content business and his success at Sony BMG Music Entertainment resulted in his promotion

Sony Computer Entertainment, which Kutaragi had been heading since its inception, had a weaker year in 2004 after several years of solid growth13 During that same year, Sony’s game sales fell to $75 billion from $82 billion, and its operating income slid to $650 million from $1 billion, losing $25 million in Q4 of 2004 This can be attributed partially to the over-saturation of the video game market and price wars which caused the PS2 to lose the top sales position for a time14

Seventh generation game consolesedit

Kutaragi has labelled the Xbox 360 as "just an Xbox 15" and stated that it was "only going after PlayStation 2"1516 However, SCE Executive Tetsuhiko Yasuda did not consider Microsoft to be a competitor, and has said that they might consider working on games together17 In September 2006 Kutaragi admitted that the shortage of PlayStation 3 consoles to North America and Japan as well as the postponing of the consoles debut in Europe put Sony's strength in hardware in decline18


  1. ^ "75 Power Players: Back at the Lab" Next Generation Imagine Media 11: 73 November 1995 
  2. ^ "playstation 2 breaks record as the fastest computer entertainment platform to reach cumulative shipment of 100 million units" PDF Sony Computer Entertainment November 30, 2005 Archived from the original PDF on December 23, 2009 Retrieved September 23, 2006 
  3. ^ "TIME 100: Most Influential People 2004" Time Magazine April 26, 2004 Retrieved September 23, 2006 
  4. ^ a b "Mr Idei's Kurosawa Ending - The Rise of Howard Stringer at Sony is More Properly the Fall of Ken Kutaragi" PBS March 10, 2005 Retrieved October 12, 2006 
  5. ^ Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc November 30, 2006 "SCE Announces New Management Team" PDF Archived from the original PDF on December 6, 2006 Retrieved November 30, 2006 
  6. ^ "Kutaragi to retire from executive role at Sony" gamesindustrybiz April 26, 2007 Retrieved April 26, 2007 
  7. ^ "Farewell Mr Playstation" mvcuk April 26, 2007 Retrieved April 26, 2007 
  8. ^ "PlayStation creator Kutaragi resigns" CNET Newscom April 26, 2007 Retrieved July 23, 2007 
  9. ^ "Farewell, Father" GamesIndustrybiz April 27, 2007 Retrieved July 23, 2007 
  10. ^ "PlayStation 'father' Ken Kutaragi retires" Los Angeles Times June 29, 2011 Retrieved June 29, 2011 
  11. ^ "客員教授 - 教員紹介 - 経営管理研究科(経営大学院) - 立命館大学" Ritsumeijp Retrieved August 17, 2012 
  12. ^ "ソニーの久多良木氏、立命館大の客員教授に : J-CASTニュース" J-castcom Retrieved August 17, 2012 
  13. ^ "Sony hit by drop in games sales" BBC April 27, 2004 Retrieved September 23, 2006 
  14. ^ "Xbox officially outsells PS2 in US" GameSpot March 26, 2004 Retrieved September 23, 2006 
  15. ^ "Xbox 360 = Xbox 15 Kutaragi trashtalkin'!" Engadget May 25, 2005 Retrieved September 23, 2006 
  16. ^ "Broken Promises: A Closer Look at the PS3" GameProcom Archived from the original on June 19, 2006 Retrieved November 20, 2006 
  17. ^ ""Sony would consider working with "non-competitor" Microsoft"" Joystiq February 25, 2006 Retrieved September 23, 2006 
  18. ^ "Kutaragi: Sony Hardware 'In Decline'" BetaNews September 8, 2006 Retrieved September 23, 2006 

External linksedit

  • Farewell, Father - Eurogamer's retrospective on Kutaragi's career

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