"We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the
workforce reduction that began three years ago is now behind us,"
said the memo from BlackBerry's Chief Executive John Chen that was
sent out on Friday.
"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," said Chen, who personally thanked those that have stayed
with the company through the process.
BlackBerry has shrunk its workforce by roughly 60 percent over the
last three years as it attempts to reinvent itself. The company that
dominated the smartphone market in its infancy has seen its sales
dramatically eroded over the last four years by Apple's iPhone and a
slew of rival devices powered by Google Inc's Android operating
Chen, who took the reins at BlackBerry roughly eight months ago, has
moved rapidly to stabilize the company by selling non-core assets,
partnering to make the company's manufacturing and supply chain more
efficient, and raising cash via the sale of the company's extensive
real estate holdings in its hometown of Waterloo, Ontario.
Chen, a well-regarded turnaround artist in the tech sector, intends
to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on
reshaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas like
mobile data security and mobile device management.
In the memo, Chen told employees that he believes BlackBerry is now
well on its way to recovery and that he is confident the company
will meet its goal of being cash flow positive by the end of the
current fiscal year.
He noted also BlackBerry, which had previously said it was trimming
its workforce down to 7,000 from a peak of over 17,500 in 2011, is
now in a position to make strategic acquisitions to strengthen areas
that are likely to drive future revenue growth.
[to top of second column]
Last week, BlackBerry announced one such deal with a move to acquire
Secusmart, a privately-held German firm specializing in voice and
data encryption. The deal is expected to burnish its credentials
with some of its highly security-conscious clients like government
Chen, who is well known for having turned around enterprise software
maker Sybase Inc in the late 1990s, told employees in the memo that
he is confident BlackBerry now has the right organization and team
in place to execute its business strategy.
Over the last few months, Chen has hired a number of former Sybase
employees that helped engineer that turnaround before the company
was sold to software giant SAP AG in 2010.
Chen stressed in the memo there was "no margin for error to complete
BlackBerry's turnaround to success", and he called on employees to
remain focused as the company rolls out an upgrade to its device
management system and its new Passport and Classic devices this
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Ryan Woo)
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