BlackBerry's BBM chief leaves company

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) said on Monday that Andrew Bocking, the executive vice president of its BlackBerry Messenger business, left the company, the latest in a series of executive departures at the firm.

Andrew Bocking BBM BlackBerry


John Sims, president of global enterprise solutions, will take on responsibility for BBM. The company declined to comment on why Bocking left, according to Bloomberg. Since taking over as CEO in November John Chen has shaken up the company's management team.

However, Chen has said BBM will be a core part of the company's strategy going forward and so it seemed like Bocking would be safe from any shakeup. BGR, which first reported that Bocking had left, said that according to an unnamed source he was poached by a competitor.

A key part of BlackBerry's BBM strategy has been to get the messaging service on phones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS. Another has been the launch of BBM Channels, a social engagement platform within Messenger allowing customers to connect with businesses, brands, celebrities and groups.

During the company's last earnings call on Dec. 20, Chen revealed that the company has "80 million active users measured on a monthly basis" across all platforms. He also said that 60 percent of those active users are using the service daily.

"The question then becomes, how do we monetize this? And the reason why we separated this unit out the way it is right now is to highlight that fact," he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "You know, I believe this is one of those startup mode companies. I think in fiscal year '15 we're mostly focusing on investing and building out more features and channels, channels both in BBM Channels, although the enterprise could use it. We already have a lot of BBM Channels out there, about 250,000 channels out there today."

Chen said he "would expect to see some reasonably good revenue" from BBM in BlackBerry's fiscal 2016 year.

Under Chen BlackBerry has put much greater emphasis on its enterprise business. Sims is one of several executives Chen worked with at SAP and who Chen has brought on board. Chen used to be CEO of Sybase, which SAP acquired in 2010 after he turned around the company.

In late 2012 COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben left BlackBerry, as did CFO Brian Bidulka. Bidulka was replaced by James Yersh, who formerly served as senior vice president, controller and as the company's head of compliance.

BlackBerry recently forged a five-year manufacturing deal with Foxconn for the contract manufacturer to jointly develop and manufacture some of BlackBerry's new lower-end devices and manage the inventory associated with those devices.

For more:
- see this BGR article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article

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