BlackBerry CEO John Chen blogs about not giving into hype

Published: December 9th, 2014

To my surprise this morning I got a LinkedIn message from BlackBerry CEO John Chen.

Now I’ve interviewed many high profile CEOs in the tech sector, but I just want to let you know that this type of communication from a top CEO is still an unusual occurrence for me. I read Chen’s blog called Don’t Believe The Hype with great interest.

In the blog post Chen says he will not waver from a strategy to secure the enterprise.

Although he admits to being pushed by staff to publically comment on recent news such as reality TV star Kim Kardashian saying that her BlackBerry smartphone is her “heart and soul.” And, another piece of news about expanding into China.

Chen said in his post that he refuses to do this because he does not want to distract from the main strategy of securing the enterprise. He did, however, say that he was grateful for Kardashian’s loyalty and passion for BlackBerry.

He added that no matter what celebrities say about BlackBerry devices it will not encourage him to focus on the consumer market.

This no comment strategy was once employed to great success by Lou Gerstner of IBM fame. If you recall Gerstner became the CEO of IBM during its most troubling time. He was an outsider and brought into change the culture. Gerstner turned around IBM and you can learn more about his exploits in book he penned called “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance.”

In the book, Gerstner said he too was pressured by staff to make public comments especially when high profile CEOs from rival vendors was saying that “IBM was dead.”

He decided against it because Gerstner thought it would not further the strategy he was trying to set in place.

I think Chen is smart to take the same approach. I’m not suggesting Chen should avoid the media or become a recluse in his corner office. He should be held accountable by the press. Chen should answer tough, insightful questions on BlackBerry strategy, markets, and channel plans.

In the blog post he says that will be straightforward, but will not chase hype or new trends.

Here is one statement he made in the post: “That doesn’t mean that we are giving up on our many phone fans, as you can tell from the recently-released BlackBerry Passport and the soon-to-be-released BlackBerry Classic. But we cannot and will not chase sensationalism. As for China, rest assured that we are developing a well-thought out plan that will take into account many factors, including timing and our long-term strategy. It won’t be rushed because it’s exciting or turned away from because of security concerns. And it won’t include a takeover.”

Chen closed off his blog post by indicating that he will use a rational approach to long term plans.

Four quick hits before I go. PR Practitioner Jerry Amernic has written a book of fiction. It’s called The Last Witness and it’s set in the near future 2039 about a last survivor of the Holocaust and the world he currently lives in.

Flash memory vendor Violin Memory has appointed channel veteran Jeff Nollette as Violin’s Worldwide VP of Channel Sales. Nollette has more than 30 years of experience under his belt and will now set up Violin’s channel program and go-to-market strategy.

Monica Eaton-Cardone, a self-professed entrepreneur, is now the new COO at Chargebacks911. She will be overseeing business operations and technology.

Finally, Vic Pierni has been named the new CFO of Global Capacity. The 25 year veteran will be responsible for the company’s financial, administrative and human resources activities.


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