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Is BlackBerry Back? With 60% Fewer Employees, CEO Says Restructuring ‘Is Now Behind Us’

By Kelly Teal
August 06, 2014 - News

BlackBerry CEO John Chen told his employees late last week that the company’s restructuring process, which lasted about three years and included mass layoffs, “is now behind us."

Chen made the declaration in a memo obtained by Reuters.

"More importantly, barring any unexpected downturns in the market, we will be adding headcount in certain areas such as product development, sales and customer service, beginning in modest numbers," Chen wrote.

Since 2011, BlackBerry has cut its workforce by about 60 percent – from more than 17,500 to 7,000 – in the face of intense competition from the Apple iPhone and devices powered by Google’s operating system, loaded onto phones from Samsung, HTC, LG and other big names. Even though BlackBerry pioneered mobility, it failed to keep up as Apple and Google dominated the market.

Chen, who specializes in turning around tech firms, took the CEO role in late 2013. Since then, he has sold various assets that aren’t core to BlackBerry’s mission, partnered for efficiencies and raised cash by selling real estate in BlackBerry’s Waterloo, Ontario, hometown.

He told employees in the memo that he believes BlackBerry is in recovery mode and that he thinks the company will be cash-flow positive by the end of its current fiscal year.

BlackBerry is slated to introduce its new Passport and Classic devices this fall.

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