In Hindsight, This Secret Failed Plan For A $US6 Billion Boardroom Coup At BlackBerry Looks Awesome

Robin ChanRobin Chan / TwitterRobin Chan, who put together the secret plan for a new Android-based Blackberry.

The fate of BlackBerry hangs in the balance. It has a deal on paper to take itself private via Canadian insurer Fairfax Financial Holdings for $US4.7 billion. But the company is still shopping itself in case there is a sweeter rescue bid out there: Last week,
BlackBerry met with Facebook. We’d be surprised if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was tempted into owning his own ailing phone company, though.

Skip straight to the secret plan >

The fact that BlackBerry today can only attract $US4.7 billion from potential buyers puts some new perspective on a secret plan put together last year by tech venture capital investor Robin Chan.

He wanted to raise $US6 billion from backers, approach the board of directors with a hostile bid, replace the management, “fork” its operating system, and turn BlackBerry into the Android of enterprise. Chan, who has funded Twitter, Square and Foursquare, among others, called his plan a “coup d’etat” that would have rescued BlackBerry. But he didn’t get enough backing and the plan came to nothing.

The plan was codenamed “BBX.” It is outlined in a PowerPoint deck on the following pages. You can read more about it on The Verge.

You can download the deck in its entirety from Slideshare.

Due diligence on a BlackBerry deal ends next week. The buyout is one reason why Chan published his abandoned takeover plan recently.

'Over a year ago, I helped form a secret product and engineering team based Silicon Valley that was keenly interested in taking over the company,' he told his Facebook and Slideshare followers.

'We wanted to move the company and its passionate customers to a custom enterprise tier of Android.'

'We saw a troubled company that could be saved.'

'We secured commitments of over $US1B to pursue a turnaround.'

'But we needed at least $US5B more.'

'Now, a year later, the strategy of an enterprise grade Android company is still sound...'

'... but it just might be too late to save Blackberry as an independent company.'

At the time Chan launched his plan, BlackBerry's stock had slipped to an eight-year low.

But CEO Thorsten Heins was 'categorically denying that RIM was in trouble,' the Verge reported.

Heins insisted there was 'nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,' according to a Reuters report in July 2012.

Chan told The Verge 'he assembled an 'elite dream team' of designers and engineers, whose names he won't reveal.'

'The thing that surprised me is there were a lot of people who loved the BlackBerry product and were sad to see it deteriorate to such a state,' he says.

'Essentially, what we were doing was a coup d'etat.'

Chan raised only $US1 billion in commitments, when at least $US6 billion was needed.

The plan withered on the vine.

Tom Moss, former head of business development for Android, posted to Chan on Facebook: 'This could have actually worked ... with some tweaks ;o) ... Honestly, what you suggested might even still be possible today.'

The rest of Chan's deck deals with deficiencies in Blackberry's management ...

And how Chan would turn Blackberry into an enterprise-grade Android device.

BlackBerry still has a bunch of assets that iPhone and Android do not.

Here's Chan's plan to have BlackBerry adopt Android as its core operating system -- saving the company development costs, and pleasing employees who prefer Android over old BlackBerrys.

Some nice concept designs for the new Android and a BlackBerry tablet.

Chan saw current management as unqualified for the jobs they hold.

The plan relied a lot on cutting and simplifying the company.

We'll let you read the rest without further commentary.

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