blackberry-ceo-john-chen-to-exit-with-software-company-planning split

(Bloomberg) — BlackBerry Ltd. Chief Executive Officer John Chen will leave the software company this week, ending a decade-long tenure that failed to deliver a turnaround in its fortunes.

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BlackBerry made the announcement on Monday after the market closed, confirming an earlier report by The Globe and Mail newspaper. Richard Lynch will take the helm as chair and interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

Chen is responsible for “saving BlackBerry and repositioning it as a software company with leading cybersecurity and IoT technologies,” Prem Watsa, BlackBerry’s lead director, said in a statement.

Weeks before Chen’s contract was set to expire, BlackBerry wrapped up a strategic review with plans for an initial public offering on its Internet of Things business, separating this segment from its cybersecurity software division.

Bloomberg Intelligence senior industry analyst John Butler said Chen’s departure enables “a new chief to bring fresh perspective and ideas” after the company spins off its IoT business. Butler also flagged the struggling cybersecurity business as the new CEO’s “greatest challenge”.

Chen joined the company in 2013 when the company was known as an early Canadian tech darling that had become a fallen titan in the smartphone market, having lost most of its share to devices run on Apple Inc. and Google software.

In 2016, the company announced its pivot from developing smartphone hardware to outsourcing that to a Chinese firm, and by 2020, BlackBerry exited that market altogether to focus on its software segments.

Shares of BlackBerry closed 6.4% higher on Monday in Toronto.

Read More: BlackBerry Plans IPO for Its Internet of Things Business

(Adds Bloomberg Intelligence reaction and more context in graphs four to six)

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