The CEO of CrackBerry Meets the CEO of BlackBerry
The 2007 Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) is now a part of history. For those who don’t know, WES is an annual event hosted by Research in Motion that brings together more than 3,000 IT professionals and business executives from around the globe and presents the latest information to help organizations define and implement wireless strategies. The majority of the 10 million + BlackBerry devices in use throughout corporations worldwide are represented at WES. Over the three-day event I walked up to countless attendees and posed the question “How many Blackberrys on your BES (BlackBerry Exchange Server)?” to the typical response of either, 800, 8,000, or 18,000+.
I attended the Orlando, Florida, event in my role as CEO (CrackBerry Executive Officer) of CrackBerry.com, which I co-founded less than three months ago and aims to be a one-stop shop for all things BlackBerry. I’m a loyal user (some would argue “abuser”) of the BlackBerry device and thought there just had to be a CrackBerry.com and took the initiative to start it. The site offers something for every BlackBerry user -- from a store that offers the latest in blackberry accessories and software, to BlackBerry news and reviews, community forums, and even a “Rehab” section for those BlackBerry users who need to get their BlackBerry use under control. The term “CrackBerry” was inspired by the addictive nature of the BlackBerry handheld device, and has become so ubiquitous that Webster’s dictionary named “CrackBerry” the 2006 “New Word of the Year”.
I missed the deadline for applying to get a WES press pass, so I went to the event as a “regular attendee”. While I did report back to CrackBerry.com with breaking news from WES, I decided to spend the majority of the time getting to meet and know as many people in the BlackBerry world as possible. I came back to Winnipeg with many new friends and acquaintances in the BlackBerry world (it was well worth the trip!).
Between the conference and parties WES offered 3-days of non-stop action, but the highlight of the event for me had to be the 43 minutes I got to spend with Research in Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie. RIM’s other Co-CEO is Mike Lazaridis and these two men were the stars of the show. At WES they are the celebrities –Jim and/or Mike could often be seen running between meetings and appointments, always accompanied by a small entourage of dark suits. This is probably to be expected considering they do head a multi-billion dollar company. Unless you have an appointment, trying to get their time and attention would be difficult to say the least.
But I lucked in. On the second night of WES, after the breakout sessions and vendor showcase had wound down for the day, I attended a WES party sponsored by Verizon Wireless. The party had a cool James Bond “BlackBerry Royale” theme, and it was a few hours into the night when I almost bumped right into Jim (I had my head down checking my e-mails on my Berry as I walked - hence how I took note of the time I began talking to Jim).
I of course recognized Mr. Balsillie -- I stuck out my hand and while we shook I said, “Hi, I’m the guy who started CrackBerry.com”. In retrospect it wasn’t the most eloquent thing I could have said, but it probably was fitting considering I was wearing a bright green t-shirt that was stamped with a bright orange CrackBerry.com logo.
Jim wore a big smile, said “Hello” right back at me and seemed open for conversation. After all, it was a party and we were each holding a drink.
Forty three minutes later I walked away from Jim with him getting in the last words, “It was good to meet you!”
While it wasn’t an interview I garnered lots of information and advice from the RIM CEO. I wasn’t taking notes, but what he said is permanently engrained in my memory. Initially, I talked to Jim about our successes in launching CrackBerry.com and gave him my overview of what we had accomplished so far and what we are working towards achieving. I never asked him if he had heard of the site or if he had visited it, but my two days spent at WES so far had indicated to me that most people in the business of BlackBerrys had heard of us (with a domain name like CrackBerry.com word travels fast!).