Skip to main content

BlackBerry Replaces Thorsten Heins with New Interim CEO

Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry has announced that CEO Thorsten Heins is set to resign. Heins will be replaced by John Chen, the former CEO of Sybase. The last six months have brought reports of BlackBerry going private or a sale of the Canadian handset maker to the highest bidder. BlackBerry announced in August that the company was exploring strategic alternatives. Today, BlackBerry announced a new CEO as well as a substantial investment from Fairfax Financial.

BlackBerry this morning announced that its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial, would invest $1 billion in the company. Among the terms of the deal is that John Chen will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors once the transaction is complete. In the same breath, BlackBerry revealed that CEO Thorsten Heins would be stepping down and Chen would take his place in the interim. Chen's role as executive chair will see him assume responsibility for the "strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry." Arguably a much easier task if he is interim CEO as well as Executive Chair. Thorsten Heins hasn't been CEO of BlackBerry for very long. He was appointed in January of 2012 after co-CEOs and founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down.

Back in August, BlackBerry announced that the company's board had formed a special committee "to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment." The committee was made up of Barbara Stymiest (chairperson at BlackBerry), Thorsten Heins (CEO at BlackBerry), Richard Lynch (BlackBerry board member and former Verizon VP), and Bert Nordberg (board member and former CEO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications). The committee will be chaired by Timothy Dattels, a member of BlackBerry's board and a former partner at Goldman Sachs. In this morning's announcement, BlackBerry said that the 'review of strategical alternatives' announced on August 12 had concluded.

The transaction with Fairfax will be subject to approval from Toronto's stock exchange as well as customary conditions. 

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • vern72
    And Thorsten received $22 million severance for doing what???
  • Innocent_Bystander-1312890
    For doing what he did with his division at Siemens... except this time the place was not broken up and sold for parts (yet).
  • Darkk
    Blackberry is going the way of Commodore did years ago. Great platform early on but never really pushed it hard enough to be accepted for wider audience. Now their OS and hardware are too late in the game.

    They are better off just licensing the remaining patents and sell the assets. It's done.

    Time for them to look for a new venture.
  • belardo
    Since I live through the Commodore Amiga era (I still have my original hardware ) I know the signs of tech company death... but commodore was a very stupid company. It still took MS 15 years to have a consumer OS that is worth a damn after Amiga OS first came out (that would be XP) and even still some aspects of xp is still substandard to AmigaOS 2.0 (1990).

    RIM should have known better. 3 year to get QNX running on a phone was stupid. They would be in much better position today if they simply went Android and tweaked it for businesses and their own style. BB functions with android? That would have SOLD.

    BB has one hailmary left to save their ass. Its embarrassing, but turn around would be months.

    Make android phones. Don't change the hardware. Simple. Skin android to look like BB10. Put it out there and hope its enough. Otherwise, they might as well close shop now.

    Commodores death was almost a surprise. They didn't know how to function like a modern computer company or market their advantage over PC or mac, nor did they do important businesses features that Amiga needed... but wasted time and money on stupid PC emulation (Amiga desktops had PC only slots, along side their own PNP slots since 1986). Not even 1% Amiga owners ever made use of this stupid hardware feature...

    Stupid people kill tech companies.
  • icemunk
    We need another OS or two in the market. Android is owning 80%, with iOS far behind with about 13%... It's too bad that likely won't happen, we'll continue to be pushed towards one OS to rule them all.
  • vern72
    11867241 said:
    We need another OS or two in the market. Android is owning 80%, with iOS far behind with about 13%... It's too bad that likely won't happen.

    Ever heard of Tizen?
  • belardo