BlackBerry CEO John Chen: `I'm Not Crazy'

BlackBerry Ltd. Chief Executive Officer John Chen defended his decision to come out of retirement to rescue the struggling smartphone-maker, telling Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang in a wide-ranging interview: “I’m not crazy.”

Known for turning around Sybase Inc., the technology veteran said he “flunked retirement.” Chen first joined BlackBerry as chairman and thought he was “too old to run around the world and play cowboys.” After realizing it was “hard to guide without doing,” Chen was named interim, and then permanent CEO.

Chen grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Hong Kong with his refugee parents and siblings. His family was so poor that a couple of stacked suitcases served as a dining table. Chen didn’t touch or even see a computer until he went to boarding school in Massachusetts as a teenager.

Three decades later, Chen is trying to turn BlackBerry into a security software and services company. He’s confident he can generate more value.

“Whether it’s going to be good enough to be iconic again, that’s something I need to chew on,” Chen said. “I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Watch Chang’s full interview with Chen on Studio 1.0 Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET and PT Thursday, Dec. 4, or stream it at

— With assistance by Emily Chang

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