As BlackBerry Layoffs Continue, Apple Hires Away Top Talent

Apple invited select BlackBerry employees to a job fair of sorts, 10 miles from campus. BlackBerry is in the process of letting go 4,500 employees.

Apple held a job fair Sept. 26, approximately 10 miles from the Waterloo, Ontario, campus of struggling rival BlackBerry, according to the Financial Post.

"Most positions will be based in Cupertino, Calif. Relocation and immigration assistance will be provided for candidates that are hired, as needed," Apple said in a LinkedIn invitation sent to select BlackBerry employees, according to the report.

Days earlier, BlackBerry confirmed in a statement that it was undertaking necessary "organizational moves" to ensure it had "the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing."

In a Sept. 20 announcement, BlackBerry warned of fiscal 2014 second-quarter losses that could reach $995 million. In the same breath, it announced "restructuring plans" that included reducing its work force by 4,500 employees.

"We are implementing the difficult but necessary operational changes announced today to address our position in a maturing and more competitive industry, and to drive the company toward profitability," CEO Thorsten Heins said in a statement.

On Sept. 27, BlackBerry confirmed an operating loss of $965 million, but cancelled its earnings call with analysts and media, in light of the $4.7 billion offer it had received from Fairfax Financial Holdings, its largest shareholder, days before.

Stealing Away Talent

Fairfax may not be too thrilled to hear that Apple is luring south some of Canada's top tech talent, and neither will BlackBerry's other suitors.

BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission Oct. 8, saying they're "considering all options" with respect to their share holdings in the company, including a "potential acquisition of all the outstanding shares of [BlackBerry] that they do not currently own."

Google, SAP, Cisco and Samsung have reportedly also expressed interest in portions of BlackBerry—a scenario that the company is increasingly warming to, Bloomberg reported Oct. 10, amid speculation that Fairfax may have trouble lining up the funding or partners necessary to back its offer.

While ultimately BlackBerry's management would pursue the option that delivers the most value to shareholders, it would surely prefer to keep the company together, Strategy Analytics analyst Ken Hyers has said.

Breaking it up, though, he told eWEEK, would benefit BlackBerry's employees.

A breakup "would result in parts of the company, particularly BlackBerry's secure email service, living on somewhere else, and would guarantee some of its employees finding jobs at other stable companies," said Hyers.

That is, unless they're already in Cupertino.

Another Setback for Canada

As part of its employee reduction plans, BlackBerry announced Oct. 11 that it is closing a Center of Excellence in Halifax, Nova Scotia, open only eight months ago. All 350 employees there will be let go, and BlackBerry will return to the Nova Scotia government $2 million (Canadian) that it received as part of the agreement, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 10.

"We know that our employees in Halifax have worked hard on behalf of our company, and we are grateful for their commitment and contribution," BlackBerry said in a statement, according to the report.

"This is difficult news for them and for the community of Halifax," it continued. "However, these changes are necessary in order to refocus our business to drive the company towards profitability and success in a maturing and more competitive industry."

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