After BlackBerry received a $1 billion institutional investment from Fairfax Financial and other partners, it announced that CEO Thorsten Heins would be leaving the company and former Sybase CEO John S Chen would be appointed as interim CEO. The company hasn’t said how long it will take to find a permanent candidate, however Fairfax CEO Prem Watsa has high hopes from Chen. Speaking with Reuters, Watsa said that John Chen is in it “for the long haul,” adding that he’s an “exceptional leader” who will do very well at the helm of the once iconic company.
Watsa is often referred to as the Canadian Warren Buffet, his holding company Fairfax Financial was already BlackBerry’s largest shareholder prior to pumping in $1 billion as convertible debt financing. In his investments he looks at leadership, which in BlackBerry’s case is John Chen, “he’s an outstanding leader,” says Watsa. Some might hold the opinion that it wasn’t a smart move by this group of institutional investors to pump in $1 billion when BlackBerry burnt nearly $1 billion in operating loss last quarter. However, Watsa and co. seem to have high hopes from Chen. John S. Chen used to be Sybase’s CEO in the early 1990s. He engineered a spectacular turnaround of the company. Watsa expects BlackBerry’s fortunes to get better within a year and a half, he believes that its a company “that deserves to exist and with John Chen it will.”