BlackBerry CEO John Chen Announces Retirement
John Chen, the CEO of former Canadian tech darling BlackBerry, announced his retirement yesterday, effective November 4, 2023.
Chen, who took the helm of the company in November 2013, cited the stabilization of BlackBerry’s future as the reason for his departure.
In a letter on Tuesday, Chen says he was coaxed out of retirement in 2013 by Prem Watsa with a mission to save BlackBerry, which was on the brink of bankruptcy at the time. “How could I say no?” Chen reflected in his farewell piece to colleagues and friends.
During his tenure, Chen says he had three key priorities: to stabilize BlackBerry financially, to establish a new strategic direction, and to set the company up for long-term growth. “Now that each of these priorities has been achieved, the time seems right for me to leave,” he stated.
Under Chen’s leadership, BlackBerry transitioned from consumer hardware to enterprise software, focusing on growth opportunities in IoT and cybersecurity. The company has established itself as an automotive industry leader with its QNX system, growing its market footprint almost fifteen-fold in the past decade. BlackBerry has also developed IVY, an edge-to-cloud data platform for IoT, and has maintained its leadership in the Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) industry.
“I feel proud to have kept this great company alive and to have defined a strategy that has kept us true to our founding mission and values,” Chen said. He expressed gratitude for the support he received during his tenure and wished BlackBerry continued success.
Chen’s retirement comes as BlackBerry completes Project Imperium, a critical next step for the company. “I felt it was important that I wait for Project Imperium to run its course to avoid disrupting this critical next step for the company,” he explained.
The BlackBerry CEO has had his share of headlines involving Apple. He called iPhone users “wall huggers” at one point, referring to short battery life and the need for a charging outlet. Chen also slammed Tim Cook and Apple’s approach to privacy and lawful access requests as well.
As for previous headlines, Chen said he would feel embarrassed when his wife would take out his Android phone at parties. He also blamed discrimination as why companies didn’t make BlackBerry apps in 2015. He also referred to Apple and IBM’s partnership as when “two elephants start dancing.” You have to give him credit for making us laugh.
“The past 10 years have been a journey with ups and downs, but I am grateful for the time spent and I take many treasured memories with me,” he concluded.