As the part of his housecleaning since taking the reigns of the beleaguered BlackBerry Inc. John Chen told Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys that she is out as creative director. The firing comes almost a year after Thorsten Heins, former CEO of BlackBerry Inc., hired Ms. Keys to promote the latest operating system and new smartphones. Just why Mr. Chen is letting the singer-songwriter go is unclear but there is plenty of speculation with declining market-share, lack of investors, a sale that fell through, a change in direction and that Ms. Keys might not be as popular as she was a few years ago.
"BlackBerry and Alicia Keys have completed our year-long collaboration," the company said in an emailed statement. "We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with such an incredibly talented and passionate individual."
When Mr. Heins hired Ms. Keys last January BlackBerry was still in third place behind both Android and iPhone. There was hope that the popularity of Ms. Keys and the new BlackBerry 10 operating system would propel the company back into relevance. By November the new operating system and devices haven't caught on and BlackBerry has continued to slip to number four behind Microsoft, the possible sale of the company fell through and Mr. Heins resigned.
Soon after the tragedy of November Mr. Chen took over the company where he went to work cleaning house and getting back to the basics. In his two months of housecleaning three of the companies top executives also faced a similar fate to Ms. Keys as CFO Brian Bidulka, CMO Frank Boulben, and COO Kristian Tear all resigned. Mr. Chen's plan is to take BlackBerry back to it is bread and butter of Enterprise services and tools.
"It might also just be that Chen and the company's new management realize that a thinly veiled PR arrangement with a celebrity whose fame arguably peaked a while ago isn't the best use of company resources. Keys has obviously been little more than a highly paid spokesperson for the company, despite the seemingly meaty title, and coming off a quarter where it posted a $4.4 billion loss, even perceived waste isn't something they want kicking around," Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch analyzed in his report.