BlackBerry boss details turnaround plan

Sheila Lam
ComputerWorld Hong Kong

When John Chen joined Blackberry as CEO, he was well aware of the company’s challenges. Financially, the company has been burning cash up to $1.1 billion in a quarter. Strategically, the company has lost its direction in product development.

Bringing 13 years of executive experience at Sybase and China, Chen aims to bring Blackberry back to relevancy and leadership in the mobility market. In a recent visit to his hometown, the Hong Kong-native spoke at the MIT Enterprise Forum Hong Kong to share his strategy to turn around Blackberry and his approach to the China market.

The business of turnaround a company

“The company clearly had lost its way (when I joined),” said Chen. “It was in financial trouble, but more importantly a strategic problem.”

Running a business that desperately needed a turnaround, Chen said his number one priority was to repair its financial status. Within a year, he reduced the company’s quarterly cash burn from $1.1billion down to U$36million. Although Blackberry still has a long way to catch up in revenue and profit margin, Chen is steering the company towards a strategic focus in product development

“The second thing is to develop something better than everybody else, and it’s something (the market) needed,” he said. According to Chen that “something” at Blackberry is “security, privacy and communications.”

“The world will come to realization that those are going to be the most important things,” Chen added.

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