BlackBerry Cleans House As COO, CMO And CFO Depart

BlackBerry’s executive shifts may have only begun, after exiting CEO Thorsten Heins was replaced by John Chen earlier in November, as three more high-profile C-levels get the boot today. The company announced today that BlackBerry COO Kristian Tear, CMO Frank Boulben and CFO Brian Bidulka have all departed the company. Bidulka has already been replaced by former BlackBerry SVP, Controller and head of Compliance James Yersh, but no replacements for the other top spots have been chosen as of yet.

The sweep isn’t surprising; BlackBerry’s last big executive shift, when Heins was handed the reins back in January of last year, was essentially the appointment of a trust court vassal. And Tear and Boulben were both brought on back in May 2012, shortly after Heins’ ascension and clearly part of his immediate guard of hand-picked execs. Boulben has been widely criticized for the dismal state of BlackBerry’s marketing around BlackBerry 10 and the launch of its flagship devices, and Tear has done little beyond overseeing massive layoffs to increase the company’s fiscal bottom line.

Also departing as of today is Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, who has resigned according to BlackBerry. Martin is faculty member at the Rotman school of business at the University of Toronto, and serves on a number of public boards and task forces. Overall, these shifts seem like a pretty clear indication from BlackBerry’s new management that this will be a new era for the company, and one that cuts ties with the Heins administration as much as possible. It’s possible that all of the above departed under their own steam, but Chen’s direction for BlackBerry appears to be quite different from the vision of a BB10 renaissance under Heins, so I’d guess it’s more about how his vision shakes out than anything else.

Illustration: Bryce Durbin