Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley was ready to bid for BlackBerry

By Adam Zeis on 6 Nov 2013 10:30 am EST
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A few weeks ago it was reported that Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley was exploring the option of making a bid for BlackBerry. Obviously that didn't pan out as BlackBerry ended their strategic review earlier this week, however it appears that Sculley may have been more serious than originally thought. 

On Bloomberg Surveillance today, Sculley said that he and a group of investors were close to having the funds to make a go at BlackBerry and were actually surprised when the company took itself off the market.

“We were pretty confident that we had the funds to be able to do the deal, but we didn’t think Prem Watsa from Fairfax was going to be able get his deal fully funded, so we decided to wait and see what happened because we thought the price might drop or there may be other bidders coming in."

No way of knowing if a Sculley deal would have worked out for BlackBerry as they've now received $1 billion in investments and are no longer actively seeking a buyer.

Reader comments

Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley was ready to bid for BlackBerry

127 Comments

Exactly. Why go to the media to say you almost did something? It seems like this guy just likes to see his name in headlines.

Exactly what I was thinking!
There are lots of shares out there available for not too much.

This is how you CB10, son!

This is a good idea. Coke was basically a marketing company selling sugar water. He did good. (I like Coke btw.)

Posted via CB10

It was Pepsi actually and he nearly bankrupted Apple. Don't think he would have been a good fit for BlackBerry. His interest is probably only to show up Apple for firing him.

Posted via CB10

You're right about pepsi but might not be giving him credit for what he did do at apple. He was able to turn Apple into a major player and compete with IBM at the time, and allow them to operate until their meteoric rise back to significance. Without him, Apple may not have been in a position to rebirth themselves. I don't know how well he'd do rebuilding BB, but I think his experience could benefit BB where it is less than adequate. He is a great operations guy. He did lack vision and wasn't able to create new products. But he was able to sell the IIc and the mac for a really long time and pad Apple's books long enough to survive. He even was the main driver behind the newton, the original PDA and ancestor to the ipad/iphone. He's no dummy and I'm sure he learned quite a bit about his missteps at Apple, I think he'd be pretty valuable to BB. But alas, lets hope our shares benefit from this new strategy.

dude are you high? Apple was never a major player and never competed with IBM. In fact, the Macintosh didn't begin to be significantly profitable until the early 90's. Up until then, the Apple II was responsible for keeping Apple afloat. (also, the Newton was a failure of epic proportions, but whatever)

Apple didn't make the first PDA Psion did 8 years before the Newton was released. Don't forget about IBM's Simon - the first PDS with a phone. They called it a PDAPhone back then not a smartphone. Don't forget QNX was on Compaq's iPaq long before RIM purchased them. Apple compete with IBM? that's hilarious. Apple could even compete with Gateway when they sold from a barn in North Dakota.

Ahh, yes you're right about the psion. I don't know if it ever caught on this side of the pond. The uk computer market was very different to where I grew up. We didn't see Sinclair's or acorns, at least I didn't. I suppose what I was getting was that the newton was rather ahead of its time because it's ability to network? More to illustrate a point rather than argue semantics, I stand corrected.

Zedtenislessoffensive.

Also, I don't find it all that funny that Apple is actually out competing IBM to such a degree they left the PC Market. Not having a laugh here.

Zedtenislessoffensive.

again, are you high? IBM got out of the market because it was a race to the bottom in terms of profits. (and it still is today)

Apple is a consumer electronics company. IBM is where the real brains are, and where the real research goes on.

Whether (officially) "For Sale" - or not - he can make an approach AND an offer to buy the outstanding shares and then see where it goes.
IF he's serious AND gets rejected, there's still the option of a "Hostile" offer ... and it probably won't take 'too high' a premium either (in the $8.50 - $10.00 range).

HOWEVER, even if he gets ALL the publicly held shares from private investors & some institutional holders, I doubt that m/any of the insiders holding the stock would sell "at this time" unless the price-premium was truly substantial ($11-13 range).

Regardless of what happens, the "BEST" thing BBRY could do "immediately" is go private to get out of the spotlight that is the public market and its reporting/disclosure requirements. Maybe Prem Watsa's $1 billion "could" be spent buying back shares to start making it happen ...

Just my 2 cents from our penny-less country.
Cheers & Keep Moving!

A hostile takeover would only be to take full control of the company not to take it private, he would have to still convince the board as the board represents the interest of all the investors. They would have to put up more than 10 $ to accomplish that.

He doesn't have to convince the board of squat if the stockholders vote to sell in sufficient numbers..also, the board would have substantial liability turning down a bid having just gone thru a sale process and company up empty.

Posted via CB10

That's not really true. It's a public company. In effect, it's always for sale if some wants to make an offer. Sculley was actually right. The price is now lower, although I think it now may take about the same amount, given a reasonable market premium.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if Sculley were to offer something like $8.00. BBY stockholders would have a tough decision whether to hang in there at $6.66 and risk stock going lower or getting out at $8.00.

Posted via CB10

I hardly think that's a fair representation and certainly not indicative of his career as a whole. The man is, or was, a marketing genius.

But those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

The apple product itself was garbage in those days. It was the worst thing you could possibly get.

Blackberry has 2 amazing OS BB7(stable) and 10(new/future tech) and Heins still managed to drive the company to the ground with that product..

Posted via CB10

I'm not saying I would like this guy to buy it, would rather it be Mike Lazaridis or the Fairfax deal, but going private would have been nice in my opinion. When you're public you're forced to air your dirty laundry, and these fickle consumers now actually let sales reports affect their buying decisions because they no longer care what phones work best for them, they just want to be part of the popular crowd...

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Amen, Canadian companies have a poor track record of competing with the rest of the world. Just look at Nortel, one of the biggest companies in the world, bankrupt. Blackberry, biggest smartphone maker in the world, now hanging on by a thread. Bombardier, cant sell anything these days. These companies become huge, get arrogant, and get smashed by the rest of the world.

Posted via CB10

Nortel was riddled with accounting fraud, real fraud, and scandal. BlackBerry shouldn't be grouped with the likes of Nortel IF it does fail. But I'm very optimistic that they can turn it around. Especially with a turnaround expert like John Chen at the helm now.

Posted via CB10

It's because it seems like us Canadians seem to follow the American media except for our own. Here in the loo there isn't many blackberry's. Only with the older sensible crowd you'll see them. We're not patriotic like the Americans with the stuff that we should be and that's our downfall.

Posted via CB10

Nice comment and all, but was their intent to also go private?

If so, Sculley et al can keep there bum offer.
Also, it sounds like they going to low-ball an offer on the basis of (un-FairFax) being disqualified.

He contradicted himself by saying they want to wait to see if the price drops, then goes on to say he/ they waited to see other buyers became interested? First statement implies he wanted a cheaper entry price but the next statement implies more bidders might strengthen the price? What planet is he on? He doesn't look alright, a tad pale maybe?

Z10 of course.

That's more or less correct. First statement implies that he knows nothing about investment banking, the tech industry, and especially BB. Second statement implies that he knows nothing about investment banking, the tech industry, and especially BB. Anyone with any possibility of buying BB has to know the inside and, probably, forge a deal with Prem. That's not to say that Scully, and a couple banker dropouts, weren't delusional in thinking that they might make a go at BB.

Adam, why bother publishing such blather !?!! End of this discussion. .... No, sorry, I heard that the German govt wanted to make an offer for BB (no doubt to secure their communications) but Merkel's text message with a proposed bid was intercepted and forwarded to Prem.

He might be implying that he would not have bid if others drove the price up. He may not want to have looked like he failed.

Don't worries too much about the content, just plain bluff there.
Yet an other attempt to captive some medias attention around his person...

Seems like slimy shenanigans to me for the benefit of their guy, Prem Warda. Makes one wonder if BlackBerry was ever truly for sale. I by no means claim to be an expert in slimy corporate goings on, but this whole thing reeks of shadiness, imo...

Posted via CB10

As was previously discussed by Chris Umi, there was no "deadline" on Monday for other buyers, and if he wants to he can still go after BlackBerry.

BlackBerry should remain public, get a focused statement out to the media and keep working. If it dies as a company fine. But no sell outs or dismemberment should ever be allowed.

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

Nothing prevents him from making an offer directly to the shareholders (hostile take over). If the price drops enough, and he was seriously interested, we might see stuff happening

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry can't be sold to a doomed ex-CEO like Sculley. If he's truly serious about bidding for BlackBerry, then where the h*ll is the submitted bid before November 4th?

Posted via CB10

Should have been willing to pay the same price as Prem Watsa if you were serious about the business opportunity.

Posted via CB10

Should have been wiling to pay the same price of a defunct bid/bidder? How do you figure that. The bar has now been lowered.

Posted via CB10

I doubt shareholders would have accepted a lower offer. You see, the look of desperation drove the share price down.
It is up to Chen to remove the perception that BBRY is desperate and won't survive. I think if he says they will be profitable in 18 months and in it for the long haul, then some of the desperation will evaporate.

I think I am glad it didn't work out for Sculley et all. Let's see how it works with Chen. From Kevin's interview, it seems that Chen is keeping BB together and is looking to make the changes BB needs to be successful including marketing.

This explains a lot about what he said about BlackBerry a few weeks ago. Seems he wanted to go after the company for those services that he deemed still profitable.

...and I was ready to walk on the Moon...sometimes last week, but I didn't tell anybody...
gimme a f***ing break!

BlackBerry is blackberry really love the way they are working on their new platform blackberry 10 now thinking seriously to upgrade to blackberry z30

Posted via CB10

john must be disappointed ,but to tell frankly he would not have been able to get so much funds.
Its easier than said.

He wanted to low ball after stock sank due to Prem's failure.

He admitted on Bloomberg video today

That's not a bid....

Board told him to take a hike. Let's see if he bids 7.5

Posted via CB10

I also like to buy the Z30 but the price of 550 euro is to much in compare with competitors. Friend of mine also like my BB10 OS phone but the price compare to 2,2Ghz and big 5,2" screen he just bought LG G2 but the phone feels very cheap, no memory slot and doesn't fit in his jeans and he also expected a wireless charger. So after 3 days he send it back and he is going to buy maybe the Z30 as soon the price is around 450 Me 2 :) waiting waiting .He still has a iphone 4S but dislike itunes and ios7.

BlackBerry lost 0.6 point so it probably makes sense to lower the price of the Z30 and hope to sell more.

Post via CB Z10

In other words "after i almost tanked apple no investment firm would touch me with a ten foot pole especially with another tech company"

Jesse its time to cook.....

Sh!t or get off the pot. Bidding on Blackberry is not like bidding on Ebay. What was he thinking? Sniping at the 11:59:59 PM mark Monday night? I like where things ended up. Blackberry just needs a firm disciplined hand to run it. That and some freaking marketing and sales talent.

look at it this way Sculley, now you can apply for the CEO position and have some control and not have to fork over a dime :)

I think with the new guy they have BlackBerry may have a chance, push major app developers to make apps for BB10 because people are so hellbent on having the latest apps they'll use for a few months and then delete when the craze for the app is over, also the marketing for BB10 was terrible, not many people outside the crackberry world knew the Q10 or Q5 existed, I'd go as far as too say only a few more knew about the Z10.
Better marketing is needed, most phone companies success is due to mainly the promotion, publicity and marketing of the phones/operating system.

Posted via CB10

The Greenmail monies of USD1B raised by BlackBerry is going to shoo away potential bidders. Sad but then probably that is what Prem Watsa wants.

Posted using my Q10

It's too little too late. John Sculley had 6 weeks to do so if he was really serious about bidding for BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10 from my spectacular Z10

Mr. Sculley and anyone else still has plenty of oppty to buy BBRY, it's just that the price is a lot lower. And declining.

Posted via CB10

There seem to have been a number of parties interested in the company as a whole, which is heartening. It's just a pity it had to be one or the other... I want BlackBerry to get all the help it can get to put it back in the game.

Why weren't Watsa and Lazaridis working together on a bid?

Posted via CB10

Don't rule out Sculley just yet. He's the best choice for keeping the company whole. His investments these days are big into health care and hmmm...so is QNX. The US health care system is undergoing a huge transformation right now especially on the back end. The BlackBerry smartphone would be the health care system's phone of choice when coupled with the security of the NOC.

Apple is the new Sony and with Google you and your info ARE the product. Would you trust your health information to these guys?

Think about it.

Posted via CB10

It's not possible to finance a bid for the company. Not about needing to work together. The financing sources don't exist, independently or together.

Only a strategic buyer can justify an acquisition at this point. Maybe now that there's so little equity value some buyers might emerge.

Posted via CB10

What I don't understand is why would Lenovo pay BlackBerry any money to buy the handset business if they were just going to run Android?
Where would be the value in that? They could just make their own Android phones without paying a premium, can't they?