Emerging Technology

John Sculley, the former Apple boss who forced out Steve Jobs, looks to buy BlackBerry

Andrew Sadauskas /

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, best known for forcing out Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the mid-1980s, appears to be setting his sights on a new target: BlackBerry.

In an interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Sculley refuses to comment directly on speculation he is exploring the possibility of bidding for the embattled Canadian smartphone maker, but is refusing to comment further.

“I’ve been a long-time BlackBerry fan and user,” Sculley says.

“The only thing I would say is, I think there’s a lot of future value in BlackBerry, but without experienced people who have run this type of business, and without a strategic plan, it would be really challenging.”

“Whoever buys it would have to have a strategic plan that was credible and could succeed, and they would want to have an experienced team that would be able to implement that plan.”

Sculley also still defends his role in pushing Jobs, who returned in the mid-1990s, out of the company he created.

“[Jobs] was not a great executive back in those early days,” Sculley says.

“The great Steve Jobs that we know today, as maybe the world’s greatest CEO, certainly of our era, he learned a lot in those years in the wilderness.”

Last month, a consortium led by Canadian investment guru Prem Watsa has signed a letter of intent for a $US4.7 billion takeover of the embattled smartphone maker.

Since then, it has emerged co-founder Mike Lazaridis has engaged the services of a major investment bank and will potentially launch a rival bid for the company.

The bids came as the company reported just $US1.6 billion in revenues for the fiscal quarter of 2014, down 45% year-on-year and 49% quarter-on-quarter.

Total losses for the quarter came in at $US965 million, including a massive $US934 million inventory writedown against unsold stock of the company’s Z10 smartphone.

The company is currently in the process of laying off 40% of its global workforce.

Last week, the Canadian smartphone maker went so far as to take out full-page ads in 30 newspapers across nine countries, in a bid to reassure its customers and business partners about its ongoing viability.

“We have one important message for you: You can continue to count on BlackBerry,” the ad stated.

In response, Korean electronics giant LG set off a social media storm on Facebook by urging BlackBerry users and employees to use its devices to “write a eulogy” to the embattled Canadian smartphone maker.

“Write a eulogy for your BlackBerry on your new LG G2’s beautiful 5.2” full 1080HD display,” LG said.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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