SONY revival prospects and shareholder meeting (BBC interview)


SONY needs to leave 1990 structures behind and more more than commodities

SONY revival from record YEN 455 billion loss for FY2010

SONY (6758) announced a record YEN 455 Billion (US$ 5.7 Billion) loss for financial year 2011, which ended March 31, 2012, and held the annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

BBC interviewed me about SONY’s prospects – click here to watch the video clip.

Gerhard Fasol on BBC TV about
Gerhard Fasol on BBC TV about “Sony executives face weary shareholders at AGM”

SONY revival: My points in the BBC interview are

  1. Stuck with 1990’s structures: SONY’s case is representative for many Japanese companies and also for many aspects of Japan as a whole today: SONY grew very rapidly until around 1995, when growth stopped. Since around 1995, there is no growth and averaged over the years zero profit. It’s very clear, that many of the management structures and ways of doing things during the pre-1995 rapid growth phase don’t work at all any more today.
  2. A commodity maker? SONY needs to decide either to build an attractive ecosystem including attractive high-margin products – such as Apple does – or if SONY continues to shoot for the commodity business, with low margins, then it needs to be No. 1 in that space.
  3. No diversity? in 2012? When we look at SONY’s website describing SONY’s top management, we can see that SONY’s top managers are almost all Japanese men – almost no diversity. SONY’s overwhelmingly Japanese male managers know Japan best – so it’s no surprise that SONY’s best performing division is the Financial Services division: a mainly domestic Japanese consumer credit card and life insurance company.
SONY's sales stopped growing in 1998 ...
SONY’s sales stopped growing in 1998 …
... while net margin and net profits have been around zero
… while net margin and net profits have been around zero

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How to turn Galapagos into a competitive advantage in both directions

Gerhard Fasol at Stockholm School of Economics

Positive and negative aspects of Japan’s Galapagos issues

European Institute of Japanese Studies Academy Seminars presents

Speaker: Dr. Gerhard Fasol, President, Eurotechnology Japan K.K.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
18:30 – 21:00
Embassy of Sweden, Alfred Nobel Auditorium
Stockholm School of Economics, European Institute of Japanese Studies

About the talk:

In the last 20 years, several global revolutions were created in Japan, including the LED lighting revolution(1), mobile internet(2), electronic money(3). However, in each case Japan failed to capture much of the global value created by these revolutions. Dr. Fasol will talk about what is holding back Japan from capturing more global value from its unique creativity and how Western companies can do better in Japan, and avoid the most well-known traps

About the speaker:

For the last 15 years, Gerhard Fasol has worked with more than 100 investment fund managers in Japan, advising them on technology inflections, initiated and managed business development and assisted M&A projects. Dr. Fasol is currently working with several US and European companies in these areas, helping them onto successful paths in Japan. Dr. Fasol has been an Advisory Board member to the Chairman of JETRO and the only foreigner on Japan’s “Post Galapagos working group”.

Gerhard has an extensive business and academic career, as manager of one of Hitachi’s R&D labs, University Lecturer in Physics at Cambridge University. He also served as Director of Studies at Trinity College Cambridge, Research Scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Science in Stuttgart, and invited Professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, was one of the first working on spin-electronics and magnetic memories in Japan, and has won a Sakigake research program from Japan’s Science and Technology Agency while faculty member in Electrical Engineering at the University of Tokyo. Gerhard graduated with a PhD in Solid State physics from Cambridge University and Trinity College, Cambridge, UK.

Download Gerhard Fasol’s lecture slides at Stanford University: “New opportunities vs old mistakes – foreign companies in Japan’s high-tech markets”

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