BB reshuffles senior execs to drive ‘image makeover’

by CXOtoday News Desk    Nov 26, 2013


BlackBerry, the ailing smartphone maker that announced several ‘image makeover’ plans in recent months, has newly announced the removal of some of the top executives from the company. The company has removed Kristian Tear, COO, and Frank Boulben, the CMO from the company. Another executive Brian Bidulka has been replaced as CFO, although he will remain with BlackBerry for the balance of its fiscal year as an adviser. In addition, Roger Martin, the former dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, also announced his resignation as a director, a position he has held for six years.

The announcement came nearly three weeks after the resignation of replacement of former-CEO Thorsten Heins with John S. Chen, the former chief executive of Sybase, who has now become BlackBerry’s executive chairman and acting chief executive. He indicated that the company is looking for a complete ‘image makeover’ to remain competitive.

Of the executives who have been fired, Tear had held a high position in Sony Ericsson earlier and Boulben, who worked for several wireless carriers in Europe. According to sources, both the executives were part of a team brought in by the company’s former Chief Heins last year. Along with Heins, they were widely blamed for the failure of the BlackBerry 10 line of phones, which was introduced this year and was supposed to be the company’s salvation. The handset maket also reported a 40% cut in its global workforce and a $1 billion loss last quarter.

On stepping into the role of CEO, Chen clearly announced that devices will no longer be the key focus of the smartphone maker, as it does not see much of a future in devices. Instead, the company will emphasize on software and services. Analysts believe that this could mean the company might ultimately get out of the business of selling smartphones.

(Also read: BlackBerry plans an image makeover, calls off sale)

Chen also mentioned that in the current scenario, BlackBerry executives need to start thinking differently about the company and accept that “we’re really not in phones but we’re in phones for software, for services, adding “the company is looking to find an executive with a strong software and services background to head this division.”

However, when some analysts suggested earlier that BlackBerry should abandon making phones and focus only on software and selling secure wireless services to businesses and governments. Chen refused to comment on that. He said in a statement: “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.”

(Also read BlackBerry puts up a brave face to hold customers)