John Chen is no stranger to turning companies around, and that is what his main focus was when he came to BlackBerry. So, how did BlackBerry convince Chen to join the company? How is he progressing? Well, Chen recently sat down to answer some questions regarding why he accepted the position, his plans to fix the company and much more.
Why did you accept the BlackBerry job?
This is a very important company. An iconic company. This is where and how smartphones started.
It kind of lost its way.
One of the bigger investors in the company, Prem Watsa, approached me. He is a very persistent fellow. I said no the first couple of times. He kind of fooled me by saying, 'Why don't you just kind of come in and build a management team and set the strategy and be the executive chairman?'
How are you going to fix this company?
I want to go back to the people who really need security. So what we're going to be coming back on are security, encryption, privacy, enterprise and a lot more on end-to-end solutions.
The real cusp of what we are focusing on is the software. Our software runs on everything now. Not only on BlackBerry, it runs on iPhone, IOS, Google devices, Microsoft devices. We want to manage all these devices in a very secure manner.
What about other lines of business?
There are 60 million automobiles running out there using BlackBerry software — telematic software, infotainment software, radio and all that. We added a lot more features, like advanced driver's assist, communications between vehicles.
Today's car, if you go to the car manufacturer, they are really building a software platform. They are not building a car.
So how's business?
In the last eight quarters, we're generating cash from operations. EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] is getting positive. We're getting there. We still have a lot of work to do. I won't fool anybody.
I would like to be profitable, definitely by the end of the year. But I'm hoping it's going to be a little sooner.
Be sure to check out all the questions, and the rest of the conversation with John Chen over at The Washington Post.