BlackBerry moving onwards and upwards, internal memo says

BlackBerry has now moved out of a difficult, turmoil-ridden restructuring process, and it’s back on track for growth, according to a memo that CEO John Chen sent out to the company’s employees on Friday.

“We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the workforce reduction that began three years ago is now behind us,” the memo said. “More importantly, barring any unexpected downturns in the market, we will be adding headcount in certain areas such as product development, sales and customer service, beginning in modest numbers.”

Over the last three years, the Waterloo, Ont.-based handset maker cut about 60 per cent of its workforce. Chen has been working to turn the company around for the last eight months, selling off some of the company’s assets like its real estate properties in Waterloo. He also forged partnerships to make BlackBerry’s manufacturing and supply chain run more smoothly and efficiently. And in terms of strategy, Chen has worked hard to establish BlackBerry as an enterprise-focused player in the mobile device space, rather than competing against companies with more consumer appeal, like Apple and Google.

In his memo, Chen said he also feels confident BlackBerry will be cash flow positive by the end of the year, and that the company may be able to do some acquisitions as well. BlackBerry already acquired Secusmart, a German company that encrypts voice messages and data.

However, that doesn’t mean BlackBerry’s employees can fully relax. Chen also called on the company’s employees to focus on its upgrades to its device management system, as well as to continue working on its Classic and Passport devices, set to be launched later this year.

Chen’s last turnaround effort was in the 1990s, when he helped reverse the fortunes of then-struggling enterprise software maker Sybase Inc. SAP later acquired Sybase, but Chen has also hired a number of former Sybase employees who helped with that turnaround and has brought them to BlackBerry.

Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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