Death by a thousand cuts: BlackBerry fires more than half of its sales force, more layoffs coming within days

The layoffs are continuing at BlackBerry, with reports surfacing that the embattled smartphone company has just fired more than half of its sales staff – and more cuts are expected within days.

According to reports from Canadian tech website Cantech Letter, republished by the Wall Street Journal, sources within the company say the company’s consumer sales team is basically “gone” and its enterprise sales teams have been “gutted”.

“I had 20 guys on BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) from [BlackBerry] sales, and they have all posted alternate emails on their status,” said the source.

The latest layoffs are centred on the company’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, with a second round of layoffs expected to hit the company’s UK sales force within days.

As SmartCompany reported, the troubled smartphone pioneer, then known as Research in Motion, cut 10% of its global workforce – or 2000 staff – in May last year.

The company announced the loss of a further 3000 jobs in August of last year, following the announcement of a $US518 million quarterly loss, including a quarter of its staff in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Then, following an earlier round of 250 job losses in July, the company announced it was cutting a further 100 jobs in August, with manufacturing and R&D support teams bearing the brunt of the cuts.

“As previously stated, we are in the second phase of our transformation plan where we will be assessing our organisation – from top to bottom – to ensure we have the right people in the right roles with the right skill sets to drive new opportunities in mobile computing,” a BlackBerry spokesperson said at the time of the most recent cuts.

The job losses come on top of a string of recent high-profile executive departures from the company, including the company’s sales chief, Richard Piasentin.

The news comes amid reports Canadian investor Prem Watsa is holding talks with Canadian pension funds ahead of a takeover bid in an attempt to save the company.


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