BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO John Chen said the company has finished its three-year-long restructuring efforts, and is now ready to begin hiring new employees and making strategic acquisitions.
"We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the workforce reduction that began three years ago is now behind us," Chen wrote in a company memo, according to Reuters, which said it had viewed the missive. "More importantly, barring any unexpected downturns in the market, we will be adding headcount in certain areas such as product development, sales and customer service, beginning in modest numbers."
The news represents an impressive milestone in BlackBerry's efforts to turn around its business. Prior to the iPhone, BlackBerry was one of the world's leading smartphone vendors, and its Qwerty-powered devices were almost ubiquitous among business executives. However, in the years since the iPhone and Android phones have taken the market by storm, BlackBerry has tumbled into obscurity. Last year the company attempted to revive its fortunes with a refreshed BlackBerry 10 operating system and lineup of devices geared toward the consumer market, but that ploy faltered shortly after launch. Eight months ago, Chen was brought in as the company's new CEO to shore up BlackBerry's business, and has done so by refocusing the company squarely on the enterprise market.
As part of the company's restructuring, BlackBerry has shed more than half of its workforce, and has also sold off some real estate and other assets. Chen has also replaced much of BlackBerry's top management team with former executives from Sybase, where Chen worked.
In the memo, Chen said he remains confident that BlackBerry can become cash flow positive by the end of the current fiscal year.
Interestingly, part of BlackBerry's long-term strategy appears to center around remaining in the smartphone business. The company this fall plans to sell the Passport, a square, Qwerty-toting phone designed to allow users to easily view spreadsheets. The company also plans to sell the Classic later this year, a phone that will sport the Qwerty design of past popular BlackBerry phones. And, according to ZDNet, a BlackBerry executive recently hinted at a "a multi-year product portfolio."
BlackBerry also recently announced it will acquire Secusmart, a German enterprise security firm focusing on voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and carriers. The companies have been partners since 2009. BlackBerry did not reveal financial terms of the deal, but it is the company's first such acquisition since Chen took the company's reins.
On June 19, BlackBerry posted quarterly financial results better than what some analysts had expected. Further, the company said it recognized hardware revenue on 1.6 million BlackBerry smartphones in the quarter, up from 1.3 million in the previous quarter. BlackBerry's stock has enjoyed significant gains this year as the company continues to improve its financial footing.
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