Multinational conglomerate Sony Corporation (NYSE: SNE) dominates 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 Sony Corporation with little more than $500 and a handful of employees. With an eye on the American market, the entrepreneurs developed two products considered innovative for the time: a tape recorder and a transistor radio. Seventy years later, Sony boasted annual sales and operating income for FY 2016 of $67 billion. The corporation owes the majority of its success to acquisitions of already successful enterprises, although its top operating segment is its Games & Network Services division, mainly consisting of the Playstation brand, which was responsible for bringing in $14.12 billion, nearly 21% of the company's yearly revenue.
Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), a telecommunications, Internet and cable corporation founded by inventor Lars Magnus Ericsson, has been in business for more than 139 years. The Sweden-based corporation has more than 116,000 employees in 11 regions worldwide. The corporation's fortunes and those of Sony became intertwined 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 an operating revenue of $6.7 billion in FY 2016.
Columbia Pictures Entertainment
Columbia Pictures began operations in 1918. It was 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 and merged and split 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 $4.8 billion. The acquisition made Sony a major player in American motion pictures. Initially, Sony 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 billion in revenue in FY 2016.
CBS Record Group
Just like Columbia Pictures, CBS Record Group had a long history in American entertainment. Founded in 1929 and first known as the American Record Corporation, the enterprise specialized in 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 have helped Sony Music Entertainment earn annual revenues surpassing $5.7 billion.
Gaikai, Inc., founded by David Perry, Rui Pereira and Andrew Gault in 2008, develops video games and cloud-based gaming technology. The company's innovative systems allow players to stream games embedded with advertising at no cost or 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. Similar to other corporations that have acquired gaming development companies, Sony acquired Gaikai to gain access to 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.