This is the life, recession and death of a tech giant, or is it? No one will disagree that the Canadian company, who started off in a small city just west of Toronto, grew to be a tech giant with millions and millions of users worldwide. What most now disagree on is the tech companies future, as they try to navigate through hard times and find they’re sweet spot, once again.
Blackberry, formerly known as ‘Research in Motion (RIM)’, started in 1985 by University of Waterloo engineering students Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin. The company was originally a consulting business based in Waterloo but in a four year time span, they morphed into a wireless data transmission company and set up point of sale customer terminals using radio waves.
When Jim Balsillie joined in 1992, the company was starting to make technology so send and receive emails through wireless transmission. The company went public in 1997, raised $115million and started to grow, fast. By 1999, the personal communicators were said to be the ‘next big thing’ and Rim’s blackberry device raised another $250 million after listing on the NASDAQ.
2007 hit and RIM started to really take off, they were making products that were now not only for corporate use, but appealed to the mass market. The company had secured over 12 million users and revenue greater than $1.67 billion.
This seems well, but what happened after this is the downfall of a company who tried to compete in a market they had no ammo for. Apple released the iPhone, Samsung brought in the S3 and before you know it, the smartphone market was booming, competition was high and Blackberry’s competitors were no small fish.
Blackberry lost its competitive advantage. No longer was RIM the go to phone with innovations that surpassed anything on the market. Now they were the conservative guys, going after the older markets and the corporate markets (or so we thought). They were actually focusing on consumer markets which made their innovation choices screwed and corporate worlds began to adopt BYOD (bring your own device) policies.
The last two years has been a true roller coaster ride for Blackberry. Co-Founders left the board and the team, new replacements came in and wanted to sell the company and now we are finding out the NEW CEO is leaving and the former CEO of Sybase is stepping in …. What does this mean for investment purposes?
To Invest or Not
If you’re investing in Blackberry, you’re likely investing in a belief of at least one of the following things I believe will happen:
- Security issues are a big deal to companies, they will refocus their innovation efforts to security and secure communication and start selling to the corporate world again
- Security isn’t an issue, blackberry now has a bad name and I really don’t think that they will survive
- Blackberry will likely sell, or divest the company and license the use of some of their patents. If this is the case, RIM has the potential to shape themselves as the go-to for secure wireless communication core technology.
If you believe in 1 or 3 I would be investing at today’s price
If you believe in 2 I would short sell BlackBerry stock.