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BlackBerry Executive Shakeup Continues
BlackBerry Executive Shakeup Continues

By Jennifer LeClaire
November 25, 2013 10:12AM

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There is a big question mark over Blackberry right now. We really don't know what direction the company will head and what other major changes will be coming. All we do know is current BlackBerry CEO John Chen seems to have a passion for change and improvement, said industry analyst Jeff Kagan.
 



The executive shakeup at ailing BlackBerry isn’t over yet. As part of what it is calling an “ongoing reorganization,” the handset maker announced two more departures, a C-suite switch up and a board resignation.

Kristian Tear, the chief operating officer, and Frank Boulben, the chief marketing officer, are leaving BlackBerry. The company also announced that James Yersh will replace Brian Bidulka as its chief financial officer.

Yersh, who has worked at BlackBerry since 2008, previously served as senior vice president and controller, and as the company’s head of compliance. Bidulka will stay on as a special advisor to the CEO for the remainder of the fiscal year to assist with the transition. BlackBerry also announced that Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, has resigned.

Chen’s Outlook Strong

That leaves Chen -- and BlackBerry's really betting on him. Chen just took over the company after Thornsten Heins resigned in November. Chen previously served as the chairman and CEO of Sybase, beginning in 1998. Under Chen's leadership, Sybase was transformed from a mature technology company into a high-growth enterprise data management, data warehousing, mobility management and analytics innovator that was acquired by SAP AG in 2010.

“BlackBerry has a strong cash position and continues, by a significant margin, to be the top provider of trusted and secure mobile device management solutions to enterprise customers around the world,” said Chen, executive chair and CEO of BlackBerry.

“Building on this core strength, and in conjunction with these management changes, I will continue to align my senior management team and organizational structure, and refine the company’s strategy to ensure we deliver the best devices, mobile security and device management through BES 10, provide multi-platform messaging solutions with BBM, and expand adoption of QNX embedded systems," he said.

Can Chen Turn It Around?

We turned to Jeff Kagan, a technology industry analyst, to get his take on the news. He told us Tear and Boulben were relatively new and simply not successful at turning the ship around. That, he said, leaves Chen in the driver’s seat at Blackberry.

“There is a big question mark over Blackberry right now,” Kagan said. “We really don't know what direction the company will head and what other major changes will be coming. All we do know is current CEO John Chen seems to have a passion for change and improvement.”

But the question remains: Can Chen make a difference? Most industry watchers hope the answer is yes. But only time will tell.

“At this point Blackberry has been beaten so far down that improvement is the only direction they can go. I know we have seen Blackberry try to remake itself several times over several years to no avail,” Kagan said. “This is another chance with new CEO John Chen in the driver's seat. Let's hope he can make the difference.”
 

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