Is BlackBerry’s new interim CEO the right guy for the job? Don’t ask co-founder Mike Lazaridis.
“I don’t know any more than you do,” Lazaridis told Canadian Business reporter Joe Costaldo this morning. “I have never met John Chen and only know what I have read about him.”
Lazaridis, who was appearing at the Canadian Business Leadership Forum at the Metro Toronto Convention Center knows about as much as the rest of us do about Chen, who will take the reins from outgoing-CEO Thorsten Heins. At least Chen has a Wikipedia page about him upon taking the job, something the unknown Heins did not.
Chen is perhaps best known for his turnaround of Sybase, where he became CEO after the company had posted four straight years of losses. He’s also a board member of Wells Fargo and Disney.
Like Heins, Chen began his tenure ship at BlackBerry by talking to CrackBerry.com’s Kevin Michaluk. In that interview, posted Tuesday, Chen said his respects BlackBerry’s engineer-first history, but isn’t looking for a techie to fill his shoes.
“I think I’m looking for a software person, ” he said. “In my mind, somebody who understands the services side of the equation also. And I know you’d love to see us increase our marketing effort, so I’m looking for somebody who can help me with really reaching more people.
Chen suggested BlackBerry’s problems have more to do with image than functionality.
“I have a tremendous respect for the technology people in the company. I don’t think I’m looking for a tech person, plus I came out as an engineer. I think I have certain sensitivity to whether these technologies are real or too good to be true. I have some sense on that so I think I could use some help on sales, marketing and services.”