BlackBerry Ltd CEO Talks About Athoc, BBRY Stock, Apple Inc. Competition

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BlackBerry CEO John Chen spoke with FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Maria Bartiromo about the acquisition of AtHoc and the future of the business. Regarding the AtHoc acquisition, Chen said it is “a very good extension of mobility” and will enable their secure messaging infrastructure to be a “more secure and more reliable system in a time of crisis.” When asked about their streamlining process, Chen said, “we are reducing jobs, but it is not so much as reducing,” as it is “more of a shifting of resources in portfolio.”

John Chen on acquiring AtHoc:

“Yes, well, they are a market leader in alert messaging services; a lot of the agencies you two were talking about earlier, the government, they’re for — all users AtHoc’s technology. And so we have a very secure messaging infrastructure, so we think that if we put the two together, not only do you do something that — which have a very rich content, and make it more secure and more reliable system in a time of crisis. So we thought this was a very good extension of mobility.”

John Chen on where they are in the streamlining process:

“We are reducing jobs, but it is not so much as reducing; we are shifting it, so we are taking a lot of the hardware — hence that — like a traditionally — like we make four phones a year or design, made, manufactured, whatever. We are not going to do that anymore.  We are going to at least cut it down to a lot — number — less number, maybe two, maybe one, but not — so — and by need those resources on to the security and software side until that — it is more of a shifting of resources in portfolio than just saying, well, we’re going to cut jobs.”

John Chen on whether he has plans to sell BlackBerry:

“I don’t have any plans to sell but people keep asking me this question.  I think, being a public company CEO, you run the company; you do have your fiduciary responsibility to listen to anything that’s good for the shareholders. But if it’s up to me, I  would like to have some more time to put the value back together.  And if we put the value back together, the shareholders, you know,  they have the patience, then, they will — I hope they will be rewarded even many times over, you know, a premium on value will be always great. So, no.”

John Chen on shifting priorities to the security side of the business:

“Yes.  I came in about 20 months ago and you look at the company, the DNA has always been security and enterprise, and I think, unfortunately, a few years back we kind of wander away from it a little bit. Now we are back in full force and I knew that, since then, we need to kind of hasten our development, so investment in securities. So we actually organically — we have like 100 — we spent $100 million or so a year in making the security thing better, and then we went and acquired technologies company that could enhance the whole offering. So I think the first one we bought were Secure Voice , so this is the Chancellor Merkel was using to anti-eavesdropping…Wait, the business out there, or the Snowden situation — so that worked fine. So she switched to a BlackBerry after all the event.  And then, we bought a company in U.K. that separated work and personal containers so work doesn’t know what you do personally and vice versa. And then we bought a company called WatchDox, which does file transfer collaborations, now we are doing a lot of movie scripts and all that so that has been going – collaborative in our system.  And finally last but not least we just bought the messaging alert system.”

John Chen on why people own BlackBerry stock:

“Well, I don’t know.  But I could guess…well, I do believe that people see that we do generate values and we’re a specialty in something, that you could generate a better value for the company.”

John Chen on whether they have plans to bridge the consumer and professional customer needs:

“Yes, it’s a little bit more complicated but the answer is yes, be able — the short answer is yes, and sometime in the future, when my plans get developed to a certain point, I will come back again.”

John Chen on competition with Apple:

“Yes, and they have done a very good job in some of the ecosystem locked in, and people love to have the pictures and all that — and all this stuff.  The problem we have — not we have — is that, you know, consumer, professionals, like all of you,  are also consumers.  So there are things that you like about consumers and there are things you like about professional. You know, if I only got the professional, that’s when the problem starts.”

John Chen on whether they’ve seen an uptick in sales due to their security efforts:

“Company and governments, governments have always stayed with us because, you know, they take a long time to change.  Companies is responding to us now.  It is important  to have the company — our company doing better financially, so the other companies have the confidence. Then nobody have ever really questioned our technology; a while back they questioned about our viability.  So if you don’t think the company is going to be around, you’re not going to buy their stuff. And — but I think we’re changing that; I hope I am changing that.”

John Chen on whether they are seeing an increase in customers:

“Yes, I am seeing that.  Last couple of quarters we have 20 — last quarter I had 2,600 new customers, and the quarter before it was like 2,200…Well, I like to make sure that we start growing in U.S.  So as much as the outside U.S.”

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