New BlackBerry Interim CEO Now Cleaning House

At the beginning of the month, BlackBerry Limited announced that it had entered into an agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and other unnamed investors to invest in the struggling smartphone company. At closing, John S. Chen was appointed as Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors, and as Interim Chief Executive Officer. Former CEO Thorsten Heins resigned both from his position, and gave up his seat on the Board.

"I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry," said Chen. "BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential – but it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success.  I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees."

Now just twenty days later, several key people from the Heins era have been ejected from the company: Kristian Tear, the company's Chief Operating Officer, and Frank Boulben, the company's Chief Marketing Officer. Brian Bidulka will be replaced by James Yersh as its Chief Financial Officer, but will stay on as a special advisor to the CEO for the remainder of the fiscal year to assist with the transition.

"I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation," said Executive Chair and CEO  Chen.

BlackBerry’s press release stated on Monday that James Yersh has more than 15 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industries. Previously he served as the Senior Vice President, Controller and head of Compliance for BlackBerry. Prior to joining BlackBerry in 2008, he held various senior positions at Cognos Incorporated and Deloitte.

"I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders,” Chen added.

If that isn’t enough of a management shakeup, Roger Martin, a Board member since 2007, has also resigned. "Our Board has benefited from Roger's expertise and insights over the past six years and we wish him the best," said Barbara Stymiest, Board Member and Former Chair of the Board.

Formerly known as RIM, BlackBerry Limited began to fall from fame as Apple’s iPhone took the spotlight. Like many other companies, BlackBerry was sluggish to respond, and so far the company’s attempt to recapture the market share it formerly owned has failed. Just recently the company booked nearly a billion dollars in losses related to unsold phones.

BGC analyst Colin Gillis recently told the Associated Press that the search for a new CEO seems like a farce, and that the company should just elect Chen as the CEO given the decisions he’s currently making. The decision to elect hiim as CEO is expected to be made on December 20 when BlackBerry reports its third quarter earnings.

"You let whoever is going to be the CEO makes those decisions. It kind of bothers me because it just seems like the search process is a farce. I mean the guy has a more than an $80 million pay package. He's blown out every other top manager. That's not your decision to make as interim CEO," Gillis said.

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  • Innocent_Bystander
    Que the Terran marine: "about damn time"...

  • Stevemeister
    So a new guy comes in - gets rid of the old guard, will then bring in a lot of old friends and cronies at high salaries and with outrageously generous golden parachutes that will make their departure in two years time (after failing to resurrect the company) more lucrative for them as individuals than actually helping the company succeed. . . . . . or am I just being cynical . . . . after all what did the last crew actually manage to achieve.
  • nadavp3
    Time to replace the operating system of the phone to either Android, Windows Phone or iOS (never say never), sure, they will lose there uniqueness (they can still make a launcher, right?) and maybe this is for the best...