New BlackBerry COO is ex-Sybase exec Marty Beard

BlackBerry has recruited a new chief operating officer, Marty Beard, recently CEO of cloud customer service company LiveOps and before that an executive at Sybase.

Beard's responsibilities will include marketing, BlackBerry 10 application development and customer care, BlackBerry said Monday.

He is just the latest Sybase veteran to come aboard after ex-Sybase CEO John Chen became CEO and chairman of BlackBerry last November.

Other Sybase alumni now at the Canadian smartphone pioneer include BlackBerry's Senior Vice President of Marketing Mark Wilson, who served as head of corporate and field marketing at Sybase, and Global Sales President Eric Johnson, who held a number of senior vice president roles at Sybase, including general manager for North America and general manager for financial services, a sales role.

BlackBerry's previous COO, Kristian Tear, left three weeks after Chen's arrival in a management shake-up that also saw the departure of Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben and Chief Financial Officer Brian Bidulka.

The business-to-business background of the recent recruits will be useful as Chen attempts to refocus BlackBerry on its enterprise customers. The company is returning to its QWERTY roots with its next smartphone, the BlackBerry Passport, which will have a wide keyboard topped by a 4.5-inch square screen said to be suited to viewing spreadsheets. But if he can't make money from phones, Chen plans to quit the hardware business, he said back in April. The company has extended its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service to Android and iOS phones, and has just begun a beta test of the Windows Phone version. Its multi-platform mobile device management and security tools for enterprise customers, such as BBM Protected, an encrypted version of BBM, also still command the company some respect.

Chen, Beard and the rest of the old Sybase gang have their work cut out for them, though: BlackBerry may have scraped together a small profit in the three months to May 31, but its revenue fell 69 percent compared to a year earlier, and sales of the company's handsets are in free fall. The company sold 2.6 million phones in the quarter to end May, down from 3.4 million the previous quarter and 6.8 million a year earlier.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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