BlackBerry leadership shake-up sees Frank Boulben axed: CFO, CMO, director and COO all stand aside

BlackBerry has announced a major shake-up of its executive team, with the company announcing its chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, a board member and the chief operating officer all standing aside.

The dramatic management shuffle will see chief operating Kristian Tear and chief marketing officer Frank Boulben leave the company, while chief financial officer Brian Bidulka will remain with the company as a “special advisor to the CEO” for the remainder of the financial year.

On top of the executive departures, the company has also announced Roger Martin, who has served on the company board since 2007, has resigned from the company.

The company has also named the former head of compliance, James Yersh, as its new financial officer, while replacements for Tear and Boulben haven’t been named.

The latest changes marks the second major leadership reshuffle this month, when Canadian investment tycoon Prem Watsa extended $US1 billion in financing to the company after a $US4.7 billion takeover bid fell through.

In that earlier reshuffle, Thorsten Heins announced he was standing aside as chief executive and director, with David Kerr also resigning from the board.

Former Sybase chief executive John Chen is filling in as the company’s interim chief executive and executive chair, while Prem Watsa has rejoined the company’s board as its lead director.

“I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation,” BlackBerry chief executive and executive chair John Chen says in a statement.

“I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders.

In the statement, Chen also says the changes are part of a larger restructure of the company, which he says is now focusing on selling “secure mobile device management solutions to enterprise customers” as its core business.

“I will continue to align my senior management team and organisational structure, and refine the Company’s strategy to ensure we deliver the best devices, mobile security and device management through BES 10, provide multi-platform messaging solutions with BBM, and expand adoption of QNX embedded systems,” Chen says.

Tear, Boulben and Heins join a string of senior executives who have left the company in recent months including marketing boss.

Marketing boss Richard Piasentin left the company in July, joined by T.A. McCann, a vice president responsible for overseeing BlackBerry messenger, and Marc Gingras, who designed the company’s BlackBerry 10 Hub feature.

In August, BlackBerry confirmed three more senior executives were leaving, including corporate information technology operations vice-president Doug Kozak, global manufacturing and supply chain senior vice-president Carmine Arabia, and service operations vice-president Graeme Whittington are all leaving the company.

During the second fiscal quarter of 2014, BlackBerry reported just $US1.6 billion in revenues, down 45% year-on-year and 49% quarter-on-quarter with total quarterly losses of $US965 million.


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