A Silicon Valley investor pitched to buy Blackberry in 2012

During RIM’s darkest hour in 2012, one Silicon Valley investor was putting together a bid to take the company private and save Blackberry with an all-star developer team.

Thorsten Heins CEO of Blackberry A Silicon Valley investor pitched to buy Blackberry in 2012

Sometime during 2012, Silicon Valley money man Robin Chan had an idea: I’m going to buy RIM. As Chan would later show in a presentation to RIM’s board and executive team, he saw that while RIM was “a company coming apart at the seams” but there was enormous potential in the fundamentals of the company: its servers and software.

Chan got to work. He made some phone calls to fellow investors, and began to hand pick a team of developers and designers to work on drastically overhauling RIM should the deal go through.

Fast forward to 2013 and with Blackberry now officially contemplating a sale of itself to a private investor, Chan posted the slides that pitched “Project BBX” to RIM’s board and investors.

Chan’s plan was radical: it would involve completely abandoning the Blackberry OS in favor of a heavily modified version of Android, slimming down the device portfolio and offering RIM’s services on iOS and Android devices.

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“The thing that surprised me is there were a lot of people who loved the BlackBerry product and were sad to see it deteriorate to such a state,” Chan said to The Verge. “Essentially, what we were doing was a coup d’etat.”

In the end Chan’s herd of investors was $5-billion short of the $6-billion required to buy the company at a slight premium for shareholders. While Chan’s group pitched the idea to RIM’s management and board, neither Chan nor anyone from the company has stated how the group was received. Chan did mention to The Verge that CEO Thorsten Heins was adamant that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the RIM during their meetings.

What’s contained in Chan’s slidedeck could very well be foreshadowing for what might come if Blackberry sells itself and goes private. Blackberry’s secure messaging system and email services are an enterprise favorite, and large enterprises will pay handsomely to keep their communications systems secure and reliable. Blackberry can’t compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple, but Apple and Samsung can’t compete with it in the high-margin enterprise communication business.

Today Chan still holds the brand high, but says “a lot of momentum has been lost.” Will Blackberry fetch a price in the ballpark of $6-billion should it be sold this year? Maybe. But at one time that offer could have been on the table. If all the market offers in 2013 is pittance, there will be a lot of angry shareholders knowing that they might have had more a year before.

Source: Slideshare

Via: The Verge

Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.