BlackBerry morphs into billion-dollar AI cyber company

Former smartphone maker BlackBerry just became a billion-dollar cyber company with the acquisition of artificial intelligence and machine learning company Cylance. John Chen, the CEO, said security was at the heart of the transformation.

“Everybody remembered BlackBerry as the handset company. But what is the essence of that handset? Security,” Chen said to FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Wednesday. “This is why President Obama uses it, you know. This is why a lot of politicians, bankers, all [use] it — because of security.”

But BlackBerry, which is based in Canada, hasn’t exactly ditched the old brand just yet, Chen said, rather it has expanded on what it does well. It also just established a Government Solutions unit.

“I didn’t really [create] a new company out of the old company,” he said. “What I have done was to take what we do well minus the hardware component, license it to other people to build their phone, but use a lot of security encryption technology that is in your phone to make it secure.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BB BLACKBERRY LTD. 2.96 -0.06 -1.82%

BlackBerry was also just awarded a contract by NATO to use its encrypted voice technology.


When Varney asked whether Chen can offer a guarantee that its technology cannot be hacked, he replied, “This world — cat and mouse — it’s just hard to crack it.”

He added: “I think it would be naïve of me to say that it will never be hacked. We try to stay ahead of the game. This is like locks on doors. You can put all kinds of locks and gadgets on it, you can’t say [it will] never be broken though.”