Sony online exec to step down

Tim Schaaf, who joined the company in 2005 from Apple, will leave the company at the end of December

Sony said Thursday that the executive in charge of its online products, and linking them up to its broad hardware holdings, will leave the company at the end of the year.

The Tokyo-based electronics giant said Tim Schaaff, who it poached from Apple in 2005, will leave by "personal choice." Schaaff is president of Sony Network Entertainment, a core division that runs its streaming music and video service and its online gaming network.

Andrew House, the executive in charge of Sony's game division, will lead the networking division after the exit of Schaaff, who will continue to serve as an outside director, Sony said.

"This was proposed by him," said Sony spokesman George Boyd, adding Schaaff indicated he wanted to "take a break and spend more time with his family."

Expanding the company's online services and offering them across its video game consoles, phones, tablets and TVs is a major part of Sony's turnaround plan under new CEO Kazuo Hirai. The company has also launched apps that allow its online services to be accessed by third-party devices like iPhones and third-party Android phones.

Schaaff joined Sony under former CEO Howard Stringer, as part of the firm's efforts to add software expertise to its product design and day-to-day management. He previously managed development of Apple's QuickTime video technology.

The executive helped roll out Sony's current online offerings, and was in charge of Sony's PlayStation Network when it was breached last year by hackers in one of the largest corporate hacking incidents ever. The hack exposed the account details of over 77 million users, spurred a federal lawsuit, and caused a weeks-long service outage.

Asked to comment about the incident, Schaaff famously said he had learned a lot from it.

"I would not like to do it again. One time was enough. Great learning experience," he said at the GamesBeat 2011 conference in San Francisco.

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