No one could accuse outgoing BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins of being overly emotional, ahead of his departure from the ailing Canadian mobility company.
BlackBerry publically announced Nov. 4 that it is backing away from a plan to go private and instead has a plan that involves a $1 billion investment and a change in leadership. Heins is leaving, the company said, and being replaced, in the interim, by former Sybase CEO John Chen.
The same day, Heins penned an outgoing letter to what remains of BlackBerry’s staff. As goodbye letters go, Heins’ is a dud, more housekeeping than heartwarming.
The Wall Street Journal received a copy. Minus Heins’ reiteration of much of the press release, it reads:
Today I bid farewell to this great company, but leave with the confidence of knowing that BlackBerry’s future is in your capable hands. Together, we have accomplished a great deal over the past six years, and I thank you for your loyalty and dedication along the way.
John Chen, a renowned expert in technology and global markets, will be appointed to the position of Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and Interim CEO pending completion of a search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Chen’s experience transforming Sybase from a mature technology company into a high-growth enterprise data management, data warehousing, mobility management and analytics innovator, as well as his deep roots in the technology industry will be invaluable to BlackBerry’s future. Additionally, Prem Watsa, a long time BlackBerry supporter and one of Canada’s preeminent investors, will rejoin the Board as Lead Director.
I’m sure you all have lots of questions about what this means—and that’s why we are hosting a town hall meeting later this week where you will have the opportunity to hear directly from the new leadership. …
In terms of next steps, your day-to-day responsibilities will remain the same through this transition. As a team, each and every one of you plays an important role in BlackBerry’s success, so I thank you for staying focused on delivering the high quality products and services that our customers have come to expect from BlackBerry throughout this transition.
You can continue to count me as BlackBerry’s biggest fan. Please know that I will be cheering from the sidelines.
Heins will leave the company with not only his accomplishments of the last few years (he was a co-COO before being promoted to CEO in January 2012) but likely $22 million.
According to a May proxy filing, Bloomberg reported Aug. 16, Heins was promised a package worth $48 million if BlackBerry were to be purchased by a new company that tossed him out, or $22 million if the company was not sold but Heins was still relieved of his position.
On Sept. 27, BlackBerry posted a quarterly loss of $965 million, after selling only 3.7 million BlackBerry smartphones during the quarter, and most of them older units running the BlackBerry 7 operating system.
BlackBerry wouldn’t offer comment on its planned town hall meeting.
Heins’, Chen’s Approval Ratings
The BlackBerry staff may not be too choked up over waving their goodbyes to Heins. According to Glassdoor, a jobs and career community, Heins’ approval rating has fallen significantly over the last few quarters.
While Heins is leaving BlackBerry with a cumulative approval rating of 73 percent, Glassdoor told eWEEK, “When we look quarter by quarter, Heins has seen his CEO approval rating drop each quarter in 2013,” falling from 88 percent during the first quarter of 2013 to 45 percent presently.
Chen left Sybase with a cumulative approval rating of 69 percent, Glassdoor added, noting that the average CEO approval rating is 68 percent.