BlackBerry CEO’s only success so far is keeping the company from folding

At the Waterloo Innovation Summit at the University of Waterloo Thursday, BlackBerry CEO John Chen reiterated once again that patience is a major factor in BlackBerry’s turnaround.

“I think the hardest thing is patience, patience for myself, for the people,” Chen said. “Don’t let market or the competition dictate the pace because good things do take time.”

Chen went on to say that finding and keeping talent is a challenge during a turnaround.

“We lost a lot of good people as a company, Not everybody is cut out to be a turnaround person or be in a turnaround environment. But if you can do it — I love it — it is fascinating, it is fabulous. The reward that comes at the end, the feeling of it, is hard to describe.”


The company needs successes before it becomes easier to attract and retain good people, and is able to rebuild team spirit, he said.

“Our only success right now is we saved the company from going away, that is our only success at this point,”

Of course, the usual question popped up regarding BlackBerry stopping the production of smartphones and Chen once again stressed the importance of the handset business to the company’s future.

“I don’t drop handsets for two reasons,” “It is the first line of defence in encryption.”,

“It is very difficult for BlackBerry to provide customers with end-to-end security if it doesn’t have its own smartphones.”

He noted that engineers who once focused on smartphone technology are now working on the Internet of Things. The devices are a critical point of entry into a world where everything from appliances and vehicles can be controlled with smartphones.

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