In the late 1980s, Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony Corp. , embarked on the most costly shopping expedition of his long career. A visionary who believed that Sony’s future lay in the convergence of hardware and “content” such as music and film, Morita eventually set his sights on Columbia Pictures Entertainment, with its two studios and a vast library of movie titles and television series. In September, 1989, after months of on-again, off-again negotiations, Sony agreed to pay the inflated asking price of $3.2 billion and assume $1.6 billion in debt.
What was the rationale for such a decision? According to John Nathan’s Sony: The Private Life, it was motivated only by senior executives’ desire to please the company patriarch. Even Morita, then Sony’s chairman and CEO, believed that Columbia’s price tag, originally $35 per share, was exorbitant. In a closed-door meeting in August, 1989, details of which have never been fully revealed, he told his seven top aides, who made up the decision-making executive committee, that he was abandoning the idea of the acquisition.
That would have been the end of it had Morita not voiced regret over dinner that evening with the committee members. “It’s too bad,” he lamented, “I’ve always dreamed of owning a Hollywood studio.” The next day, the group reconvened and promptly decided that Sony would purchase Columbia after all. In the weeks that followed, Sony upped its bid from an initial $15 to $27 a share and, by late September, made a deal that was ridiculed by industry experts. In 1994, mismanagement forced Sony to write off $2.7 billion and assume a loss of $510 million for its Hollywood experiment.
Sony: The Private Life is filled with such insiders’ tales, making it the most vivid and detailed account in English of the personalities who built the $50 billion-plus consumer-electronics giant. Nathan, a professor of Japanese cultural studies at the University of California, got access to dozens of executives who had contributed to or witnessed Sony’s development since its 1946 founding in war-devastated Tokyo. Nathan offers, however, only limited analysis of Sony, the corporation. And he tends to go over well-trodden ground: how Sony established itself in the U.S. and how it developed famous products or devices. Much of this has appeared before in articles and, to a lesser extent, in books.
This is not to say that Nathan’s book has no point of view. The company’s underlying problem, as illustrated in the Columbia case, is that the environment in which the Sony Corporation has historically conducted its affairs is less public than personal, less rational than sentimental. In conclusion, Nathan says that, under the current leadership of President Nobuyuki Idei, Sony is emerging as a rational company. Moreover, Idei and his practical-minded managers are intent on reinventing Sony as an Internet company. From now on, says Nathan, “personal relationships are not likely again to figure decisively.” But how will this Sony fare? Nathan admits that a dazzling future is far from guaranteed.
1. Which of the following is true of Sony’s acquisition of Columbia Pictures?
[A] It was motivated by Morita’s desire to project an image of success.
[B] Sony’s top executives were quite convinced of its benefits for the company.
[C] Entertainment industry insiders believed it was the failure of Hollywood.
[D] It was the expensive expansion from electronics into entertainment.
2. The word “patriarch” (line 2, paragraph 2) most probably means_____.
[A] founder [B] monarch [C] elder [D] forerunner
3. It can be inferred from the last two paragraphs that_____.
[A] Sony: The Private Life is the biography of Akio Morita
[B] Sony’s Japanese leaders have been too practical-minded
[C] this management problem of Sony cannot be rectified overnight
[D] Nathan did not write about how Sony established itself as the electronics giant
4. Nathan’s attitude towards Morita seems to be of_____.
[A] strong distaste [B] implicit criticism [C] enthusiastic support [D] reserved consent
5. The best title for the passage may be_____.
[A] Sony’s Shopping Expedition [B] Sony: the Private Life
[C] Who Drove Sony to Ground [D] Sony: Management by Impulse
答案:1.D 2.A 3.C 4.B 5.D
(1)embark (v.) 上船，装船;~ on/upon sth.从事，着手，开始(新的或艰难的事情)
(5)library(n.)系列丛书(或磁带等)，文库，如a ~ of children’s classics儿童文学名著系列丛书
(13)ground(n.)(兴趣、知识和思想的)范围、领域，如We have to go over the same~(我们得讨论同样的话题)。
(14)fare(n.)费用，旅客，食物(v.)过日子，遭遇，受招待How did you~in London?(你在伦敦过得怎样?)