Multinational conglomerate Sony Corporation (SNE) is a dominating force in the world of consumer electronics, entertainment, and telecommunications. As such, it is hard to imagine the company’s humble post-World War II beginnings. Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita founded the Tokyo electronics shop that would become the Sony Corporation with little more than $500 and a handful of employees. With an eye on the American market, the entrepreneurs developed two innovative products for the time—a tape recorder and a transistor radio.

The company has come a long way since then, making a series of strategic acquisitions that have helped boost its position as a behemoth in the corporate world. Read on to find out more about the top four companies owned by Sony and how they help contribute to its financial success.

Key Takeaways

  • Sony is a dominating force in consumer electronics, entertainment, and telecommunications.
  • The company completed its acquisition of Ericsson in 2012 and reintroduced it as Sony Mobile Communications.
  • Sony purchased Columbia Pictures for $3.4 billion in 1989.
  • CBS Record Group, part of Sony Music Entertainment, was acquired by 1988 for $2 billion.
  • Sony purchased gaming and cloud company Gaikai in 2012 for $380 million primarily for its talent pool and gaming rights.

Sony Financials

The corporation posted $78.1 billion in revenue for the full year ending Mar. 31, 2019. The company's top operating segment is its Games & Network Services division, mainly consisting of the Playstation brand. Playstation 4 consoles were responsible for the surge in revenue for the full year, which amounted to about $20.8 billion. The company's financial division and its home entertainment and sound division followed, with revenue totaling $11.5 billion and $10.4 billion respectively.

$75.5 billion

Sony's market capitalization as of Mar. 11, 2020.

Ericsson

Ericsson (ERIC) has been in business for more than 139 years. The telecommunications, internet, and cable corporation was founded by inventor Lars Magnus Ericsson and is based in Sweden. Ericsson has more than 116,000 employees in 11 regions worldwide.

The corporation's fortunes became intertwined with Sony in 2001. The companies entered into a 50/50 partnership to rescue and modernize Ericsson's mobile phone division. Under the Sony Ericsson partnership, Sony contributed its technical expertise in the areas of mobile phone design and technology. Sony completed its buyout of Ericsson in 2012 and re-introduced the division under a new name—Sony Mobile Communications. SMC posted operating revenue of $4.5 billion in FY 2018.

Columbia Pictures Entertainment

Columbia Pictures began operating in 1918 as a small movie production studio compared to the leading Hollywood studios of the day. During the 1920s, the studio experienced rapid growth and thrived financially as a result of its association with legendary movie director Frank Capra.

Over the next 50 years, Columbia Pictures entered into television, merging and splitting numerous times with industry players such as Screen Gems and Warner Bros. Coca-Cola purchased Columbia Pictures in 1984 for $750 million and sold it to Sony five years later for $3.4 billion in an all-cash deal. The acquisition made Sony a major player in American motion pictures.

Sony initially recorded more than $2 billion in losses as a result of the purchase. However, blockbusters such as the "The Da Vinci Code" and franchises such as Spider-Man, Men in Black, and James Bond eventually earned Columbia Pictures more than $4 billion worldwide. Columbia Pictures is a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which recorded around $8.87 billion in revenue in FY 2018. 

CBS Record Group

Just like Columbia Pictures, CBS Record Group had a long history in American entertainment. Founded in 1929, it was first known as the American Record Corporation. At that time, the enterprise specialized in the rights management, manufacturing, and distribution of recorded music. Columbia Broadcasting System acquired the American Record Corporation in 1938 but only had the right to use the word Columbia in North America. To expand its business worldwide, executives renamed the company CBS Records.

Sony initiated its CBS Records acquisition in 1988 for $2 billion. At the time, CBS Records was the world's most successful music company. As a result of the buyout, Sony renamed CBS Record Group as Sony Music Entertainment and reintroduced the Columbia brand. Contracts with music industry powerhouses such as Clive Davis, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé helped Sony Music Entertainment earn annual revenues surpassing $3.8 billion.

Gaikai

Founded by David Perry, Rui Pereira, and Andrew Gault in 2008, Gaikai develops video games and cloud-based gaming technology. The company's innovative systems allow players to stream games embedded with advertising at no cost and don't require players to purchase ad-free versions. Gaikai's Share Play feature allows players in multiple locations to play games together.

Sony purchased Gaikai in 2012 for $380 million. Just like other corporations that buy gaming development companies, Sony acquired Gaikai to access its talent pool and exclusive rights to games for its bestselling PlayStation gaming console. The company's tech is responsible for Sony's Playstation Now cloud gaming platform.