- Company hiring again
- Still has to see steady profits
- Chen making investments and partnerships
CEO John Chen says ‘BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth’
BlackBerry has gotten through the first phase of its two-year turnaround plan and now the company is focusing entirely on profitability and we think their approach of not spreading too thinly with launching more and more products is quite understandable. The CEO of the company, John Chen, took the reins of the struggling mobile company in 2013 and has ever since been working to get the one-time investor darling back on track. A lot of moves have been made in this regard which have been coupled with the selling of assets, partnering with others to lower manufacturing costs and increasing the scope of apps. Moreover, the company has also found another way to raise cash – via the sale of real estate holdings in its hometown of Waterloo, Ontario.
While talking to Reuters in an interview, John Chen said “Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again. That is definitely something I am very focused on doing.” The 59 year old Hong Kong-born executive first made his name at the struggling database software firm Sybase where he managed to rescue the company and sold it a decade later to SAP for $5.8 billion in 2010.
Chen, who believes that the worst is now behind BlackBerry, said “If you look at my track record at Sybase, I think we made money for some 60 quarters in a row, even when the dotcom bubble blew up we were profitable. I like that philosophy. We will survive as a company and now I am rather confident. We’re managing the supply chain, we are managing inventories, we are managing cash, and we have expenses now at a number that is very manageable. BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth.”
Only a year earlier, the company was in the midst of a rather painful restructuring alongside scrambling to find a suitor and trying to play down media reports of its “death spiral.” And John Chen came as a savior and helped the company to regain some of its lost swagger. The company still has to turn towards steady profits but it is hiring once again and t improve things further, Chen has begun acquiring small companies and investing in growth.
“He stepped in to catch a falling knife, which is what BlackBerry was at the time losing $1 billion plus,” said Prem Watsa, whose Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is a major shareholder and which helped bankroll a debt recapitalization that led to Chen’s arrival. “He came in and very quickly stabilized it and very quickly laid out a roadmap to breakeven.”