Former BlackBerry Ltd. CEO Thorsten Heins decided to leave the company on his own, according to Prem Watsa, chairman of Fairfax Holdings.
Last Monday, Heins was replaced by John Chen, former CEO of Sybase Inc. who was named interim CEO, when a proposed takeover of BlackBerry by Fairfax fell apart and the investment company instead signed a deal to put $1 billion into the company by selling convertible debentures.
In an interview with the daily newspaper the Globe and Mail, Watsa said Thorsten told him he felt it was “appropriate” to resign and that BlackBerry can’t have “two people being in charge.”
“Neither John Chen nor myself asked him to resign,” Watsa said.
Heins, who joined BlackBerry in 2007 as a senior vice-president of its handheld services, succeeded the company’s co-founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in 2012 as CEO as was tasked to turn around the fortunes of the troubled Waterloo-based smart phone maker.
Thorsten did a “very good job given the hand he was dealt,” according to Watsa.
He praised Thorsten for rolling out BlackBerry 10 saying the company “wouldn’t be here today if not for BlackBerry 10 devices.”
However, he said the company now needs someone with an enterprise background and a very good track record. He said Chen grew up in Silicon Valley and knows most of the tech players in the world.
Watsa joined the board of BlackBerry in 2012 when it became the largest shareholder of the company. He resigned from the board this August because he “wanted to be independent.”
Watsa will become a director of BlackBerry’s board once more as Fairfax leads the new financing for the company.