John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry, is set to retire at the end of the week, concluding his decade-long tenure at the helm of the Canadian technology company. During his leadership, Chen oversaw a significant transformation of BlackBerry from a hardware and devices company to one with a strong focus on enterprise software.
To manage the transition, BlackBerry has named Richard Lynch, a director on the company’s board, as the interim CEO while they search for a permanent replacement. Additionally, John Chen will step down from his role as board chair, with Richard Lynch taking over this position.
Following the news of Chen’s departure, U.S.-listed shares of the company rose by 6.5%, according to a report by the Global and Mail, published during late afternoon trading hours.
John Chen, who is 68 years old, joined BlackBerry in November 2013. Once recognised for its full-keyboard business phones, BlackBerry faced challenges as its business declined with the introduction of the iPhone by Apple in 2007 and the widespread adoption of Android-powered smartphones.
In response to these changes, BlackBerry shifted its focus to cybersecurity, in-car software, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Recently, the company announced its intention to separate its IoT and cybersecurity units, with plans for an initial public offering for the IoT business in the next fiscal year.
Last year, BlackBerry discontinued its smartphones business and has been actively seeking to sell its legacy patents related to its mobile devices.