Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Blackberry laying off workers in Ontario and Florida

Blackberry is laying off an unspecified but "small number" of employees both in Waterloo, Ontario, and at Sunrise Florida. The creator of the Blackberry Messenger, Gary Klassen, has left the company, according to reports.

The Florida newspaper SunSentinel reports Blackberry notified the state that it would be laying off 75 employees between February 5 and February 26. However Blackberry refused to confirm these numbers to the CBC after phone and email requests. A statement from Blackberry reads:
"As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce. This means finding new ways to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities, while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business. As a result, a small number of employees have been impacted in Waterloo and Sunrise, FL. It also means that BlackBerry is actively recruiting in those areas of our business that will drive growth. For those employees that have recently left the company, we know that they have worked hard on behalf of our company and we are grateful for their commitment and contributions."The cuts are part of CEO John Chen's plan to improve the company's performance. Blackberry denied rumours that about 35 percent of its work force would be cut.
Blackberry would not confirm that Klassen was among those cut from the Waterloo Ontario facility. However, his wife Jenn posted a photo of her and her husband on her Facebook acoount that read: "My husband has walked out of BlackBerry for the last time!" Klassen was director of architecture and innovation. Another senior executive, QNX boss, Dan Dodge also recently left the company.
Richard Tse, an analyst for Cormark Security, said: “The reality is they are really trying to make a pivot to a software business, so everything they are doing is laser-focused on that. There may be people from the legacy business who are not attuned to that.” Given the modest size of the layoffs Tse did not think that Blackberry was giving up on the handset business as yet. Chen has been making a number of acquisitions that have expanded its ability to offer software for mobile devices. In the third quarter of last year, Blackberry sold just 700,000 handsets compared to selling more than 12 million at its peak of production. Chen said: “My first goal is to get devices to break even. I have been very vocal: If I cannot get there, I will not keep taking my investors through that.” In the past Blackberry employed almost 11,000 people in the Waterloo area but in 2014 there were about 2,700.

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