BlackBerry plans more layoffs, fired U.S. sales chief -- report

The ailing smartphone maker is eyeing additional layoffs beyond the 5,000 announced during its previous fiscal year, says The Wall Street Journal.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
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BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins Sarah Tew/CNET

BlackBerry is eyeing another round of layoffs as part of its ongoing restructuring, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citing "people familiar with the matter," the Journal said Wednesday that the job cuts would affect middle management across the sales and support divisions. The new layoffs would come on top of the 5,000 cuts planned during the company's last fiscal year.

One person already hit by a job loss is Richard Piasentin, BlackBerry's vice president of sales in the U.S. The Journal's sources say the U.S. sales chief was fired in June. A BlackBerry spokesman confirmed Piasentin's departure to the Journal but declined to comment about any layoffs.

Responding to a request for comment on impending layoffs, a BlackBerry spokesperson told CNET that the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

A couple of board members are also leaving. At its shareholders meeting on Tuesday, the company announced that John Wetmore and former chairman John Richardson won't pursue re-election to the board.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins continues to face unhappy investors who keep questioning the company's strategy amid its poor performance. For its fiscal first quarter, BlackBerry turned in a loss while Wall Street had anticipated a small profit. The company also expects another loss for the current quarter.

One shareholder at Tuesday's meeting referred to the rollout of the BlackBerry Z10 as a "disaster," the Journal noted, while another asked why the company was having such a tough time in the U.S.

Heins pinned much of the blame on U.S. carriers, whom he said promote only the hottest devices, such as the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy lineup.