After 10 years with BlackBerry Ltd., John Chen, the CEO and executive chairman, says the company is well positioned for his departure. 

Chen said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Wednesday that while the company’s Internet of Things business has been “doing very well,” it had to work to improve its cyber security business which lagged behind. He said the firm’s cybersecurity products, which focused on protection, were not aligned with the broader market that focused on remediation.

“We had to catch up with that and it took us the last three years to do that,” he said. “We have all caught up and this is one of the reasons why I feel like it's good to pass the baton.”

On Monday, it was announced that Chen would be retiring and leaving the company after a decade at the helm. A press release from the company said Chen’s last day with BlackBerry would be on Nov. 4. 

More recently Chen had been working toward splitting the Waterloo-based technology company’s cybersecurity operations from its Internet of Things business, which he planned to take public in a June initial public offering

Initially, Chen joined BlackBerry in 2013 as an interim chief executive, where he worked to restructure the company from a smartphone producer into a firm specializing in software and services. 

“I remember when I first decided to take this particular role, I wanted the BlackBerry brand to shine again,” Chen said. 

“I wanted a Canadian flagship technology company and this is why I wanted the headquarters to remain in Waterloo and expand globally.” 


When Chen first took over as the company’s top executive, he said there was a focus on re-establishing its financial footing, which took about two to three years. 

After which he said he knew the company would “be able to survive,” but it needed to take on a new strategy and “leapfrog” what was happening in the industry at the time. 

“You can’t just be a follower,” Chen said. 

At the time, the Waterloo-based company was still making smartphones. 

“The difficulties were that's the only thing we knew how to do at the time, to make phones and we were losing money on phones and market share,” he said. 

With files from The Canadian Press