As we noted previously, John Chen hit the stage at the Waterloo Innovation Summit on Thursday to sit down with Cary Burch, Senior Vice President of Innovation for Thomson Reuters for a Fireside chat to discuss a number of topics. As there's no video posted yet of the event, we've decided to go ahead and just pick out a few highlighted quotes for everyone who wasn't able to attend.
"We have today about 44,000 patents. The good thing about this is that we also have one of the youngest patent portfolios in the entire industry, so monetization of our patents is an important aspect of our turnaround"
"I want the employees (of BlackBerry) to feel very proud, want them to feel wanted. I'm trying to recapture that team spirit. We're still in the forming stage, but I'm trying to recapture it."
"Cellphones are extremely emotional — you probably sleep with your cellphone. I know I do. When I travel, I sleep with my cell phone more times than I sleep with my wife."
"The fact that a company is financially not doing that well, or that it's market share is not doing that well, doesn't mean it can't innovate"
"Security is important to enterprise; privacy is important to the individual."
"We're not going to go away as a company. I think the hardest thing is patience. We don't let the market or the competition dictate the pace. Good things take time. In a public company format, time is something you may not be able to afford."
"Focus on making yourself better. Don't worry about what the person next to you is doing."
"We lost a lot of good people as a company, Not everybody is cut out to be a turnaround person or be in a turnaround environment. But if you can do it — I love it — it is fascinating, it is fabulous. The reward that comes at the end, the feeling of it, is hard to describe."
"I don't drop handsets for two reasons," "It is the first line of defence in encryption.", "It is very difficult for BlackBerry to provide customers with end-to-end security if it doesn't have its own smartphones."
"Our only success right now is we saved the company from going away, that is our only success at this point."
As expected, Chen kept things light cracking a few a jokes at the expense of "other fruit company" making smartphones but at the same time, dealt with some of the more serious questions regarding BlackBerry, its customers, employees and future of the company. One interesting comment came by way of how BlackBerry enforces their patents where Chen noted the challenge is balancing between aggressively safeguarding them via lawsuits or monetizing them via collaborative licensing agreements.
"If you go too far and become too aggressive, you become a (patent) troll," said Chen, who said the company was not keen on taking that approach or gaining such a reputation. "If you want to go about monetizing your patents in a non-aggressive, legal way then it takes time, and in a turnaround time is one of the key commodities you don't have, so balancing those two is very difficult."
I'm not sure if any video of the fireside chats will be uploaded from the Waterloo Innovation Summit but hopefully it will be as this sounds as though it was a great interview that dug a little deeper than most. If the University of Waterloo posts any videos, we'll be sure to share them.