Kimishima Takes Helm as Nintendo President
SEPT. 14, 2015 • Tatsumi Kimishima has been chosen to succeed Satoru Iwata, who died last July, as Nintendo president. Kimishima has been with the company in numerous positions since 2000, including a stint at the helm of Nintendo of America. Most recently, Kimishima has served as General Manager, Corporate Analysis & Administration Division; General Manager, General Affairs Division; and chief of Human Resources. The 65-year-old executive’s core competencies lie in finance and operations. He often was present alongside Iwata at news conferences to discuss financial questions. At the announcement of his elevation to president in Oaska, Japan, Kimishima said he projected no alterations to current strategy and plans to make developing younger talent a priority.
Impact: That Nintendo has made a relatively swift executive choice is good news for the company. Any dithering in deliberations would have been met with further apprehension in financial and industry circles that would have heaped unwanted extra pressure on the gamemaker. The choice of insider Kimishima seems to us to be a consensus decision to stay on focus without introducing distractions. That rationale won’t be well-received by critics who would prefer to see Nintendo torn down and rebuilt around a completely different business model, yet makes perfect sense from a traditional Japanese perspective where consensus and staying the course has its virtues. Bottom line, you simply cannot count Nintendo out. They have a great deal of resources and there is still great demand for a device that plays games on television sets. As was shown with the success of the DS in 2004 and the Wii when it launched in 2006, all it takes is a hit product to turn things around. Kimishima’s comment that he wants to nurture younger executive talent is a clear signal that the company understands further innovation is necessary, but for the short term a steady hand on the tiller is in the best interests of Nintendo. That does not mean the console maker does not need to take a close look at its strategy. The market has changed and evolved significantly and what has worked in the past is not guaranteed to work in the future. Nintendo faces major market challenges. In the portable market they have been hurt by the emergence of smartphones and tablet devices that have many games, which are free. On the console side Nintendo has lost almost all its momentum and really needs a new product to reinvent itself. We think Kimishima clearly understands the need to look closely at both short- and long-term strategy. But when those changes come down the road, a more youthful content specialist groomed on the inside to take the chief executive’s chair will pull the trigger.