John Chen signs on for another five years.
When John Chen first arrived at BlackBerry, the future of the company was in question. Most assumed that the company was not long for this world. Chen first arrived in the capacity of interim CEO which resulted in the more pessimistic to assume he was readying the company to be sold off. The optimists hoped that Chen would bring his turnaround artist wizardry to BlackBerry and save the company, which is precisely what he did.
It didn’t take long for the “Interim” title to fall by the wayside. John Chen was intent on saving this company, and planned to be around long enough to do it. He brought on a team of executives that also had experience in what the company needed, many of them having helped Chen in previous organizations, and off they went changing the direction of the company.
The change was not an easy one. It was not simply a case of streamlining the company. BlackBerry wouldn’t be saved by layoffs alone. Indeed, the very nature of the company had to change. Taking the skills and reputation for software and security that BlackBerry had earned from the smartphone industry, BlackBerry now began to offer those solutions to other industries while slowly leaving the industry which they had once commanded, and was now bleeding the company dry.
BlackBerry was no longer a smartphone manufacturer. They were now a software and security company, focusing on the needs of the now forming IoT. The company is no longer in danger. The company is now growing, and settling in to it’s position as a leader in a field where most are only now realizing how great a need there is.
Chen’s new deal iincludes 10 million restricted stock grants that shall vest through November 2023, with half paying out only if share price reaches goals of $16-$20. There’s an additional cash award to be won if BlackBerry stock hits $30. Chen’s $1 million salary and $2 million annual bonus will remain in tact.
Having seen what Chen was able to do with a struggling, and nearly dying, company inside five years, I’m anxious to see what he can do in the next five with this now healthy company.