Ex-BlackBerry CEO finds new home

I always thought Thorsten Heins got a raw deal at BlackBerry. He was handed a difficult position thanks to decisions that others had made when he took over the company 2012 after it plunged over the cliff.

So it’s nice to see that he’s landed on his feet as chairman and CEO of Powermat Technologies, which makes wireless charging solutions for mobile devices.

“Thorsten possesses the rare combination of deep technological and industry expertise with true leadership ability,” outgoing CEO Ran Poliakine said in a release. “Powermat is poised at an important juncture in its evolution and Thorsten will lead its expansion to take the wireless charging solutions we created into the mainstream. I look forward to working closely with Thorsten as Powermat advances toward a bright future.” Roliakine will become the company’s vice-chair.

Heins’ new position comes just over a year after he left BlackBerry.

It wasn’t his fault that the Playbook tablet shipped without an email client, nor that the Z10 was late. Under his watch BlackBerry did begin steps towards monetizing BBM, now being accelerated by new CEO John Chen.

What Heins didn’t do was give up on the consumer market, for obvious reasons — it’s bigger than the enterprise market. But by 2012 consumers had made their bets with Android and iOS. Chen has resolutely focused the company on the enterprise. He’s also brought the company closer to fiscal stability, but through slashing jobs and spending.

This week one financial writer in the Globe and Mail said he’s more optimistic that Chen has put BlackBerry on a solid foundation for a company built on software sales through BBM and a BES server able to manage Android and iOS devices along with BlackBerrys — but he also warned that revenue won’t be picking up fast in the next 12 months.

So has Chen saved BlackBerry? We don’t know yet.

Powermat is a rubberized pad that plugs into a power outlet. Mobile devices just sit on the pad and their batteries are recharged by an electromagnetic field. The company recently struck a deal to install charging stations in U.S. Starbucks outlets. Charging stations are also available in Cadillac ATS, CTS and Escalade vehicles.

“Powermat’s technology is on the cusp of mainstream adoption,” Heins said in a release. “It is built directly into devices and cars, and the list of public venues that have adopted Powermat is growing steadily. In the same way that wireless communications untethered people and allowed them to do more on their own terms, wireless power has the potential to free us from the power cords that limit the freedom of mobile technology. It is exciting and energizing to be joining such an entrepreneurial company, where the contribution of every employee is essential to our shared success. Ran’s vision and execution created a world-class industry where none existed before. I am honored to lead Powermat into its next exciting phase.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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