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William Pesek

How Nintendo Squandered Its Wii Triumph

The CEO's caution undermined his better instinct.
Double fault.

Double fault.

Photographer: Getty Images

The death of Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata on July 11 unleashed a rare outpouring of emotion in Japan's normally impassive tech world, and deservedly so. Iwata had many accomplishments at Nintendo -- including the development of the Wii console, the DS handheld player and the Rockefeller Center retail store -- but his legacy transcends them. He personified much of what's right and wrong about corporate Japan in the increasingly dynamic global economy.

The Yamauchi family that founded Nintendo took a calculated risk in naming Iwata the company's first non-family CEO in 2002, a relatively fallow time for the company. Replacing Hiroshi Yamauchi (a man known for inflexibility and a volatile temper), Iwata quickly led Nintendo back to ascendancy, helping oversee a tripling of revenue.