BlackBerry has had a tough few years, to say the least.
Before the iPhone launched back in 2007, BlackBerry was one of the most popular phone platforms in the world. Even in 2008, a year after the iPhone launched and just around the time Android debuted, BlackBerry still held half of the US smartphone market.
But now, it’s essentially a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung. BlackBerry and Nokia, two companies that ruled the phone market in the early 2000s, now only account for a very small portion of the smartphones used around the world.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who has been leading the company for the past 18 months succeeding former CEO Thorsten Heins, has a plan to turn the company around.
Chen swears that BlackBerry’s smartphone business will be profitable again soon, but the first step is to keep pushing where the company already sees some success: privacy and ine the enterprise space.
As the CEO of BlackBerry, Chen faces significant pressure. He’s only been in charge of the company for less than two years, but once he’s been in that position for several years, investors and critics are going to expect to see a significant turnaround.
The idea of failure, of not meeting those expectations, crosses Chen’s mind frequently.
“Right now, I know it’s impossible,” Chen said in an interview with Business Insider. “I should leave now because if I stay longer, it will be on me. But it will work.”
The key to bringing a company back from multiple quarters of losses, as difficult as it sounds, is to not let those obstacles drag you down. Chen likens the job to that of a doctor working in an emergency room.
“People like us, who like to tackle a tough problem, who focus on turnarounds and trying to save enterprises and businesses, we like tough challenges,” he said. “It’s like emergency room doctors. It’s not like it doesn’t get to you — it does get to me, but we can’t let it drag us down.”
Chen says he isn’t worried, though.
“I’m not too concerned about how tough this is,” he said. “Sometimes things are so bad that you find out over time that you laugh at it, but you get up and run again.”