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In an emailed statement, Nintendo has relayed some sad news this morning. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo's head for 53 Years, has died at 85. Hiroshi Yamauchi led Nintendo from 1949 to 2002, and transformed the company from a maker of playing cards to the world's largest video game company.
Hiroshi Yamauchi was instrumental in the worldwide growth of Nintendo, overseeing both the company's console expansion into video games (Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System), as well as transforming the portable video game market with the release of the Game Boy product line.
Hiroshi Yamauchi was succeeded in the CEO role of Nintendo by Satoru Iwata but maintained an advisory role with the company for a few years after his exit from the comapany. Hiroshi Yamauchi remained the company's largest stockholder, with over 10% of the company's stock.
Hiroshi Yamauchi also owned the Seattle Mariners major league baseball team until 2004 (which was then sold to Nintendo US), and was Asia's richest man as recently as 2008. When Hiroshi Yamauchi led Nintendo, he ensured that the company took on no debt, a position the company maintains today, with over 8.7 billion in cash reserves.
Satoru Iwata issued the following statement "We will continue to treasure the values Yamauchi taught us — that what makes you unique lies at the core of entertainment. And we at Nintendo will continue to change the company flexibly to adapt to the times, as Yamauchi did, to carry on his spirit."
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