BlackBerry fires CEO Thorsten Heins, scraps buyout plan

By , Nov 4, 2013

blackberry

As a long-time competitor of, and what many believe to be a casualty of, the iPhone, we’ve been keeping a close eye on BlackBerry’s situation over the past several months. The last we heard, the company had agreed to sell itself to Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion.

But apparently that’s no longer the plan. In a bit of a surprise move, BlackBerry announced this morning that it has given up on its effort to sell itself to a large investor, and that it will be replacing Thorsten Heins with former Sybase chief John Chen as interim CEO…

The news came in the form of a press release, where BlackBerry announced that rather than bid for it, Fairfax Financial will lead a group of investors that will pour more than $1 billion into the battered Waterloo-based company. The money will come in the form of a debt sale.

From the press release:

“BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY; TSX: BB), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that it has entered into an agreement pursuant to which Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (“Fairfax”) and other institutional investors (collectively, the “Purchasers”) will invest in BlackBerry through a U.S. $1 billion private placement of convertible debentures.  Fairfax has agreed to acquire U.S.$250 million principal amount of the Debentures.  The transaction is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.”

BlackBerry says that today’s announcement marks the conclusion of the review of strategic alternatives it announced on August 12, 2013. It’s confident that an immediate cash injection is the best route for the company to take, and says it’s already begun making necessary changes.

blackberry 10 event header

Here’s more on the executive shuffle:

“Upon the closing of the transaction, John S. Chen will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and, in that role, will be responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry.  Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee and Thorsten Heins and David Kerr intend to resign from the Board at closing.

In addition, Mr. Heins will step down as Chief Executive Officer at closing and Mr. Chen will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer pending completion of a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.”

In addition to ceding the CEO post, Heins will step down from the board of directors, as will director David Kerr. Heins was hired as BlackBerry’s chief executive following the exit of its then co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie—well after the company began its downward spiral.

But Heins hasn’t done much, if anything, to slow the bleeding. BlackBerry announced back in September that it would be writing off nearly $1 billion in unsold smartphones and cutting 40% of its workforce. That’s over 4,500 layoffs, one of the largest ever for a Canadian company.

Putting all of that behind us, though, it will be interesting to see what John Chen and the new board members can do. I think it’s admirable that they’re going to try to rebuild (although I’m not sure if they really had a choice or not), instead of taking the easy way out like Palm.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Is there any hope for BlackBerry?

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  • chumawumba

    BlackBerry still exists?

    • Skip to my Lou

      DAMN! Beat me to it.

    • Jo

      Well yeah, it’s a fruit!

    • http://www.eraser.org B. Braun

      Still alive? This is what Techcrunch has to say:

      • LAGISSUEZ

        Lol! That picture is awesome!

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Hahaha, never noticed that; even their logo indicated that they’re destined to hit the graveyard soon.

      • Hyr3m

        Graveyards are cool around Halloween…

        I wonder if this will ever be cool though :

  • Rahnold

    They’ve lost too much of their Enterprise business to competitors and have no chance of gaining ground in the consumer market this late in the game. Hopefully they aren’t paying Alicia Keys very well in light of these lay offs. :P

  • Matthew Cooper

    Their gonna ride that bitch til the brakes fall off

    • Choff

      Why don’t people know the simple difference between their, they’re and there? Also your and you’re? People really lack brain cells these days.

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Lmmfao, have thought the exact same thing so many times.

      • Matthew Cooper

        Put I after the comma bro

      • Matthew Cooper

        Grammar nazi? Why didnt you catch my use of “til” instead of “until”? You are doing a horrible job

      • Tom Brady

        Hold this dislike

      • Matthew Cooper

        Also the sentence should read, Why do people not know instead of why dont people know. I can do this all day

      • Hue Hue Hue

        Because you have no job and you dropped out of college. OOOHHHHHHH!

      • Matthew Cooper

        I do have an awesome job that pays well but even if i didnt i missed the part where it was relevant

      • kadeem kadz Dulice

        cuzzzzzzz *MF* some people kno how to make shit slide i perfectly understood the nigga … idk seems to me like some of u are digging for kudos policing the internet … we’re no longer at the office sending emails to coworkers

      • LAGISSUEZ

        ^
        This comment wins. End of discussion.

      • Matthew Irwin

        Why does being a cock make you feel better?

      • kadeem kadz Dulice

        no idea what ur talking about … question rejected

      • Matthew Irwin

        why don’t you look at the comment this was in response to

  • Jo

    I kind of feel bad for blackberry.

    • marcus1324

      Not really, there was marketing team was a joke they wasted so much money on expanding the market for crappy phones.

      • Jo

        4,500 lost their jobs, it sucks for them.

      • marcus1324

        I’ll explain it too you, the reason Black Berry sucks is because they expanded their market to different areas way too quickly causing them to run out of money therefore they couldn’t invest in new ideas because if that idea failed then they would be at a major loss and they also couldn’t pay the employees. Don’t feel bad they made a mistake because they were so excited.

      • Mismatch

        You’re as insensitive as you are stupid.

      • marcus1324

        I just mentioned why you shouldn’t feel bad for Black Berry they brought it on themselves… I’m Insensitive because it didn’t relate to having to pay the employees health care or something they would have had to cut them anyway just not as many.

      • Hyr3m

        What they made with BB10 is actually much better than the greatness of both iOS and Android combined (if we take out of the equation the plethora of apps populating their respective third-party-app stores). Their problem is that they seem to have an issue with using immoral marketing practices, unlike Apple which relies on them and Google which doesn’t need them because of their current hugeness…

      • marcus1324

        I agree with what you said, BB10 is really good and nice but it is not as near as good as iOS or Android.

      • Hyr3m

        Let’s agree to disagree on this one :D

  • Jo

    Soon Blackberry will be nothing but a delicious fruit. Apple too.

    • marcus1324

      I was going to like this until I read the second sentence.

      • Jo

        I was kidding! But it’s kind of true. Every single company will become extinct and fade away like Blackberry, and like Kodak. I will get much downvotes.

      • marcus1324

        True but that can take a long time, governments act like companies to operate and China has been around since B.C. so don’t say that.

      • Hyr3m

        Current China is the result of a civil war in the first half of the 20th century. Regime changes have occurred in the eon before that; Chinese dynasties have succeeded each other, the latest of which was the Manchu Dynasty Qing (which lasted about 270 years…). The borders of “China” have changed a lot in the past 5000 years (yeah… the Chinese civilization goes far beyond just “B.C.”).

        I recommend watching “Red Cliff” if you’re interested in Chinese history. It’s based on one of the four great classical novels (another one of which (“Journey to the West”) features the now well known, used and reused Monkey King (Dragon Ball, the movie “Forbidden Kingdom” and Naruto come to mind)).

        Sorry about that… I’m at work on a rainy day and I’m bored as hell ^^

        More on topic I can’t wait for Apple’s era to end… The amount of cr4p they do that gets used as a (lowering) standard for other companies is getting ridiculous. (Windows 8 comes to mind…)

      • marcus1324

        Hmm thanks for the info I will look into it more lol

  • Jonathan

    Blackberry, fruit, Apple, fruit. Windows? Not a fruit. I think I’ll call Windows bananas instead.

    • chumawumba

      I think I’ll call Windows ‘nuts.’

      • Rick Hart

        Have to agree with you on that one! Android is candy so it would suit well

      • Jonathan

        So true, LOL xD

    • Jo

      Behold: Windows Bananas.

  • sz9ytd

    Blackberry couldn’t keep up with technology advances. That’s y it’s the next fallen one.

  • Anonymous

    I think they should have named the iPad air the iPad Pro, and the iPad mini the iPad Air. Just a thought

  • Nirvana

    BurBERRY and now BlackBERRY, don’t think we’ll see more of their competitive products since they no longer match Apple and Google

    • Hyr3m

      BB10 is actually far better than iOS has ever been (and will ever be). The only things BB lacks are a fully packed app store (or app world, as they call it) and about 3 dozens of BS marketing teams (which apple has a profusion of).

  • Riley Freeman

    he was never the right choice. im not saying this would have saved the but the fact they tried to sell their bb 10 as a premium product with no proven track record was a horrible idea. i remember here in canada, the z10 or q10 i cant remember which one was more expensive on contract than a 16gb iphone. The fact they had the nerve to price it that way was absolutely ridiculous and showed how out of touch from reality they were.

    all bb 10 devices should have been free or 50$ on a contract. when they were released we still had 3 year contracts and everywhere else was pretty much 2. Lock customers into contract and while u wont make as much money, u definitely will give yourself pretty much 2 years to get app support and improve your product. locking them in was like basically giving yourself a guaranteed extension.

    the whole putting out a tablet and not being able to get bbm working on it but yet it works on the iphone and android is completely embarassing.

  • Saúl Ga
  • Roger Riekki

    Good, bye Blackberry.

  • onebyone_

    we need more competition in the mobile market. I wish Blackberry will go up.
    Because Apple and Samsung need more competition. if not, they will do whatever they want, I enough of small upgrades on every “new iPhone” or “Galaxy”.
    PD: aaaand the next one will called ” iPhone Air ” because SIX (6) is too much, enough of numbers and maybe the next will called ” iPhone Air II “. tought.

    • D R

      RIM wasn’t competition. It was roadkill. There is a nice and wide tire tread called “iPhone” running right along the back of RIM. They never saw it coming.

  • AMB_07

    I applaud Heins for the efforts, there wasn’t much he could do because his predecessors had already broken the company so bad. None of the blame is on him, he truly did the best he could. It would take a miracle for Blackberry now.

  • Bob

    When it comes to Blackberry their hardware isn’t the problem, it’s the software. Their OS is terrible. When I had a 9900 for work you had to restart your phone to reinstall an application. Their OS is probably the worst ever. They might actually be better off ditching Blackberry OS, moving to Android and implementing their features like Samsung does with the S line. You can get BBM on Android and iOS now, which was one of their main selling points.

    • Palmer Paul

      Their secure, enterprise email service is the best asset they have right now.

      • Bob

        I’m sure they would be able to implement it into Android and have it exclusive to their phones. The Samsung S4 for example has exclusive features that can’t be found on stock/rooted Android.

        If they had a choice to only sell phones to business customers or everyone, what do you think they’d choose?

      • Palmer Paul

        Business customers. They’ll never make a dent at Apple and Samsung sales if they try to sell to everyone. By trying to sell it to everyone, they’ll be compromising the business aspect of their company, which subsequently means they lose a substantial amount of their business customers. However, if they have a specialty (or we can even call it a niche) of a secure smartphone for businesses, governments, and corporations, they’ll still make a decent amount of sales.

  • perri_dash

    Partnering with google is the only action I could see blackberry taking that could possibly save them. Google has had a lot of success with Motorola, although not the most popular phone, the brand still has a place in the market. Something has to be said for that, and with google being google doing what they do best, data collection, metrics, analytics, mobile os, email, search engine, social media, video streaming and hosting, etc. it would seem like not only an obvious solution but a match made in heaven….for blackberry. Think of google as jesus christ and blackberry as the poor lost souls inhabiting the mobile world that is the 21st century.