Blackberry Shakeup: CFO and Other Top Executives Depart

John Chen, interim CEO of Blackberry

In an effort to regain its competitive mojo, Blackberry is shaking up its senior management following the ouster of CEO Thorsten Heins. On Monday, November 25, Blackberry announced more C-suite departures, including Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben as well as Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear. Both were hired by Heins. But the most surprising move is the ouster of CFO Brian Bidulka, who will be replaced by James Yersh.

The sweep isn’t surprising, but is notable considering the number of high-level executives replaced. Since the iPhone surged in popularity, Blackberry has struggled to regain dominance as a competitive smartphone maker. The troubled smartphone maker is aggressively seeking ways to reinvent its brand as competitors like Apple begin tapping into foreign markets.

Perhaps the most interesting development is the announcement of John Chen as interim CEO. Chen previously worked with software maker Sybase in the 1990s and is best known for his role in turning the company around. Chen’s style of management focuses on promoting from within and hiring from outside to fill existing gaps. Continued C-level shakeups are part of Chen’s strategy to align senior management alongside organizational structure.

Chen is Out to Prove Critics Wrong

Blackberry shares are down 12 percent. Its yearlong share slump rests at 50 percent. Despite the struggles and skeptic criticism, interim CEO John Chen aims to prove the critics wrong. Chen sites internal ingredients as a recipe to build a long-term sustainable business. With his experience turning around Sybase under his belt, Chen is confident in his ability to give Blackberry some steam. When Chen joined Sybase in the 1990s, the company was losing $98 million per year. He would sell it for $5.8 billion approximately a decade later.

Part of Blackberry’s new strategy will be to regain its appeal to working professionals and expand into the consumer market as well. During its glory days, Blackberry was the leading phone for CFOs and business professionals. In fact, webinars were even held to ensure that CFOs got the most out of their Blackberry device. Now, under the guidance of John Chen, Blackberry is priming itself for a larger asset base established on fluid capabilities and flexible options.