It’s dark times over at BlackBerry. After a deal with Fairfax Financial died in its final stretch, the mobile company has received $1 billion to right the sinking ship. But the plan comes at the cost of jettisoning plenty of personnel, and the Wall Street Journal reported today that “sources familiar with the matter” say that two of the company’s top VPs, Rick Costanzo and Chris Wormald, are the latest on the chopping block.
Neither BlackBerry nor the execs involved have confirmed the departure to the Journal, but it’s another one in a long list of names that have left the company as it enters into 2014. Here’s a quick list of who is in and who is out at BlackBerry, in addition to Costanzo and Wormald:
CEO Thorsten Heins: OUT — The first on the chopping block since the deal fell apart, Heins was asked to step down the morning that BlackBerry released information to the press. But, he seemed escape with a golden parachute for his short stint at the top of BlackBerry, despite the company’s failings.
Interim CEO John Chen: IN — The former Sybase CEO has already taken the reins at BlackBerry, and the company hopes that he’ll stay. According to The Verge, Chen stands to gain $85 million in stock, vested over the next five years, on top of his $1 million base salary and $2 million bonus options. It’s a deal designed to keep him committed to the position, and the likely frontrunner for permanent CEO.
Directors David Kerr & Roger Watson: OUT – BlackBerry Director David Kerr outlasted the initial shakeup in 2012 after RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazardis and Jim Ballsillie left, but he didn’t survive after the Fairfax deal fell through. Watson, another long-serving board member, stepped down in late November.
Director Prem Watsa: IN – One can argue that BlackBerry would be nothing at this point without Prem Watsa. The company’s largest investor (owning 10 percent of the company) resigned his director position in August of this year due to “potential conflicts of interest.” That conflict, of course, is that he’s CEO of Fairfax Financial. The company’s involvement in keeping BlackBerry on life support means that Watsa has rejoined the board with more power than before — and a lot more to lose if the company cannot get it together.
COO Kristian Tear, CMO Frank Boulben: OUT – The first victims of Chen’s big house cleaning, both Tear and Boulben resigned from their respective positions at the end of November. No one has been named to their positions.
CFO Brian Bidulka: IN, for now – When both Tear and Boulben’s departures were announced, eight-year veteran Bidulka was slated to be replaced by James Yersh. But Bidulka’s jettison will be delayed, as he has been tapped to help new CEO Chen get his bearings.
40 percent of BlackBerry’s workforce: OUT — Despite talk of saving these jobs in the private buyout, BlackBerry is expected to follow through with a Septmber announcement of axing 4,500 people from the company. It’s unclear exactly when or how these layoffs will be coming, but they are likely to happen soon.
That’s quite a long list of casualties for a company to bear, but BlackBerry’s new CEO Chen has re-emphasized its commitment to enterprise customers earlier this month, promising that the company is “no longer for sale” and that it will continue to manage its device initiatives. But it’s hard to not take departures in these numbers to heart — BlackBerry will have to do more than talk to convince its clients that a brighter future is ahead.