Former Sybase CEO John S. Chen has taken up what is arguably one of the toughest jobs out there, leading BlackBerry. After receiving a $1 billion investment, the company’s board announced that CEO Thorsten Heins is leaving, and in his place John Chen is coming as interim CEO. He will hold on to this position until the company finds a permanent CEO, but it hasn’t given a timeframe for the search. Perhaps Chen will emerge as a strong contender, seeing as how the company has given him an incentive worth $88 million to stay onboard.
According to documents filed with the SEC, Chen will receive a base salary of $1 million per year, along with an annual performance bonus of up to $2 million. Apart from pay, he has been awarded 13 million shares of restricted BlackBerry stock which vests in five years. As of now, the shares are worth $85 million and will be worth significantly more if Chen is able to turn the company around and bring its stock price up. A quarter of the shares will vest in three years, another quarter in four years whereas the remaining 50 percent will become payable after five years. If things go south in the meantime and Chen is terminated, he will receive a $6 million payout. That’s a big compensation package, one that’s geared to keep Chen onboard for the long run. Up till now Chen has been displaying confidence in BlackBerry, he believes that the company has enough ingredients to become a sustainable and profitable business once again.