BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) CEO Appoints Colleague To Top Sales Job

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Chief Executive Officer John Chen was appointed by BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s board to turn around a failing company, something that he was able to do with the failing Sybase. Sybase was on the verge of failure before Chen took the reins and dramatically reversed the company’s fortunes.

Reassembling the Sybase team

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Chen believes that in order to do the same at BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) he requires his colleagues from his years at both Sybase and SAP AG (ADR) (NYSE:SAP), the company that acquired Sybase in 2010.

Today saw the smartphone manufacturer announce that Eric Johnson would take over as the company’s top sales executive. Johnson will arrive having last held the position of senior vice president in charge of the SAC’s global database and technology. Both Chen and Johnson worked together at SAC after it acquired Sybase.

This marks the third hiring of former SAC executives in Chen’s short career at BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB). In December, Chen hired Mark Wilson, a former Sybase executive, to lead BlackBerry’s marketing division; he then hired John Sims from SAP to oversee BlackBerry’s enterprise business.

“The experience that the majority of the new leadership team has in working together previously will drive change within the organization at a faster pace,” Chen said in a statement today announcing Johnson’s arrival. “I look forward to demonstrating these changes to the market,” he continued.

BlackBerry downgraded

This appointment, however, has taken a backseat to a downgrade by Oppenheimer & Co., which has sent BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s stock into something of a tailspin in today’s trading. Analyst Ittai Kidron reduced his rating of BlackBerry to the equivalent of Sell.

The opening bell saw an immediate plunge in the stock price of nearly 6.5%. As of this writing, however, the stock has fought back and is presently trading at $8.46, down 3.42%. This marked the biggest drop in the stock this year as it had gained 18% since January 1.

“Chen’s downsizing and enterprise-software focused strategy is pragmatic, but we’re still cautious on his ability to successfully turn around the business,” Kidron wrote in a note explaining his downgrade.

“We expect BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s device shipments and subs to erode quickly before stability is achieved with the new strategy,” Kidron concluded.