BlackBerry CEO Says Restructuring Is Complete

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BlackBerry CEO John Chen says layoffs are over and new jobs are on their way, but warns there is “no margin for error” in recovery

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has reportedly told employees that the company’s restructuring is now over and that it is ready to hire more staff and make acquisitions as it seeks to build on its areas of strength.

In an internal memo seen by Reuters, Chen said that after three years of layoffs, that have seen BlackBerry’s workforce reduced from 17,500 to 7,000, new jobs would be created in some divisions such as product development, sales and customer service, although he said these would be “modest” to begin with.

Chen was appointed last year after the company failed to find a buyer and quickly installed a plan to rebuild the company around management, messaging and security services, QNX-embedded systems and high-end smartphones for businesses – the majority of which will have keyboards.

BlackBerry restructuring

john chen blackberry leadThe former Sybase CEO has sold off non-essential businesses and real estate holdings, but says there is now money in the pot for strategic acquisitions following the purchase of German encryption specialist Secursmart last month.

However despite the renewed optimism, Chen’s memo warned staff that there is “no margin for error to complete BlackBerry’s turnaround to success.”

BlackBerry was once the leader in smartphones, with its security features valued by enteprrise and government customers. However its phones have become increasingly undesirable while Android and iOS have closed the gap in terms of management capabilities, eroding the Waterloo-based firm’s market share.

The company did post a modest profit of £13 million during the first quarter of 2014, suggesting that Chen’s memo was not all hot air.

The next major BlackBerry device to hit the market will be the square QWERTY-based Passport smartphone, while the company recently outlined its vision to become an IoT network leader with its Project Ion.

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