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November 10, 2014

BlackBerry ‘Will Survive,’ CEO Says

John Chen Says It is Now Time to Start Concentrating on Growth

BlackBerry CEO John Chen

BlackBerry is a survivor, says its CEO — and it is now time for the company to start looking to the future.

“We will survive as a company and now I am rather confident,” John Chen told Reuters. “We’re managing the supply chain, we are managing inventories, we are managing cash, and we have expenses now at a number that is very manageable. BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth.”

The Canadian Smartphone makers has completed the first phase of its two-year turnaround plan and Chen said he will do his darnedest to make sure the firm never goes into the red again.

“Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again,” Chen said. “That is definitely something I am very focused on doing.”

Chen has reorganized the beleaguered Waterloo, Ont. firm since taking over last fall from fired CEO Thorsten Heins. He has put a new management team in place, sold off some real estate holdings and laid off about 40 percent of BlackBerry’s workforce. He has also retuned the company to its core strengths of enterprise and security — abandoning the plan put in place by Heins to create snazzy touchscreen phones to compete with Apple’s iPhone and high-end Android options. He said BlackBerry, during the tenure of Heins, became distracted by trying to produce the best higher-end Smartphones.

“We cast our nets a little too broadly,” he said at the time. “The bigger play is in enterprise.”

Chen, who is credited with turning around Sybase Inc in the late 1990s, is known for being both a good businessman and a good leader.