Respected Sony veteran exec Michael Lynton is moving up to chair Sony Corporation of America. The news broke last week in the Financial Times and New York Times; Lynton will continue as chairman/CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. (The official release is pasted below.)
The news broke last week in the Financial Times and New York Times that Lynton is now chairman/CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. This comes as video game exec Kazuo Hirai is poised to take over the Japanese parent company on April 1, as current Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer becomes chairman of the board. Stringer had continued running Sony Corporation of America after he took over the reins of the parent company in 2005.
Moving the Sony executive deck chairs will also promote Sony general counsel and exec vp Nicole Seligman to an administrative role as president of Sony Corporation of America. Lynton, who like Seligman is a trusted Stringer ally, will be expanding his portfolio to include the music and music publishing groups. Hirai will continue to oversee video games and consumer electronics from Tokyo. The FT suggested that Hirai will be more invested in shoring up Sony's core businesses than entertainment:
Sony’s music businesses and film and TV studio have been among its few profitable divisions in recent years, but some in the US still fear a spin-off or sale that could leave the entertainment companies vulnerable to a takeover.
Another question is whether this promotion means that Lynton will give his Sony Pictures Entertainment title to his co-chair, Amy Pascal, the highest ranking woman in the movie business. Well, the answer is no. Sony makes it clear that Lynton will continue to run Sony's entertainment operations: motion pictures (Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics, and TriStar Pictures), worldwide television production and distribution, home entertainment, and digital productions (Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation)–from Culver City and New York. Pascal will remain co-chair of SPE and chair of the motion picture group.
SPE has managed to generate more than $1 billion in domestic box office for each of the past ten years. And worldwide in 2011, thanks to a slate including "The Smurfs," "Bad Teacher," "Moneyball" and Sony Pictures Classics' "Midnight in Paris," the studio grossed more than $3 billion. The studio has long relied on established franchises such as "Spider-Man," which launches a new iteration this summer, along with "Men in Black."
After working at AOL, the Penguin Group and Disney, Lynton joined Sony as studio chairman in 2004, after John Calley stepped down.
OFFICIAL SONY RELEASE:
Michael Lynton named CEO of Sony Corporation of America;
Nicole Seligman to become SCA President
March 29, 2012 – New York, NY – Michael Lynton has been named CEO of Sony Corporation of America (SCA) and Nicole Seligman will become SCA President, it was announced today by Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman, CEO and President of Sony Corporation and Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President.
Mr. Lynton will be overseeing Sony’s entertainment businesses, including Sony Music Entertainment (SME), Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). Ms. Seligman will have responsibility for Sony’s U.S. headquarters operations.
Mr. Lynton will remain Chairman and CEO of SPE, and Amy Pascal will remain as Co-Chairman; they will continue running the studio together. Ms. Seligman will remain as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Sony Corporation.
The promotions announced today, which will become effective June 27th, are part of a series of management changes being implemented in conjunction with the transition of leadership at Sony. On April 1st, Mr. Hirai will become CEO and President of Sony Corporation. Mr. Stringer continues as Chairman until June 27th, when he is expected to become Chairman of the Sony Board of Directors. Mr. Stringer has also been Chairman and CEO of SCA since 1998. As of June 27th, the position of SCA Chairman of the Board will be assumed by Mr. Hirai.
“Michael Lynton is an incredibly accomplished executive who has distinguished himself in at least three different fields – entertainment, technology and publishing,” said Mr. Stringer. “Michael and Amy helped put Sony Pictures on the path of stability and profits and they continue to be one of the most successful partnerships in entertainment. Michael is absolutely the right choice to succeed me as CEO of SCA. He understands the vital importance of fulfilling Sony’s unique promise of linking content and devices, and has been instrumental in our efforts to make it happen.”
“Having worked so closely with Nicole Seligman for more than a decade, I know her to be a superb leader with great intelligence and integrity,” said Mr. Stringer. “There is no one better suited to serve as SCA President at this important time in the company’s history.”
“I have known both Michael and Nicole for many years and they will do an excellent job at Sony Corporation of America,” said Mr. Hirai. “They will be key members of my management team as we build on the progress made under the leadership of Sir Howard and fulfill Sony’s destiny as the company best able to make and deliver the kind of entertainment, products and services people want.”
As of June 27th, reporting to Mr. Lynton in his capacity as SCA CEO will be SME CEO Doug Morris, Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier and Ms. Pascal.
As head of Sony’s U.S. headquarters operations, Ms. Seligman will have oversight of such SCA functions as legal, finance, human resources, investor relations and communications, and will work closely with those corporate functions of the entertainment businesses as well.
Mr. Lynton and Ms. Seligman will report to Mr. Hirai.
“I am grateful to Sir Howard and Kaz for this opportunity to work with Nicole, Doug, Marty and Amy in leading Sony’s entertainment businesses,” said Mr. Lynton. “While the studio and the music companies are doing well, this remains an era of great change and challenge, and so I know we will work more closely than ever with Sony’s electronics and network businesses to bring the best possible entertainment experiences to people everywhere.”
“Working with Sir Howard throughout this past decade has been a highlight of my career, and I am thrilled to have the chance to work closely with Michael in leading Sony Corporation of America,” said Ms. Seligman. “Michael, Amy, Doug and Marty are the best entertainment executives in the business, and together with them, we all look forward to joining Kaz in putting Sony on the path to ever greater success.”
No management changes are planned at SPE; Mr. Lynton will continue to be based in California at the studio’s world headquarters in Culver City, and will travel to New York. Ms. Seligman will continue to work in New York and Tokyo.
Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is the U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment and technology companies in the world.