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7 Ways To Totally Blow A Tech Company Turnaround

BlackBerry has been in the middle of a turnaround for the past two years and just ousted a bunch of executives earlier this week. They aren't the only ones that have failed to find ways to turn around a floundering tech giant.

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Remember BlackBerry?

Beginning in January 2012 when CEO Thorsten Heins took over, BlackBerry essentially bet the company on a touchscreen smartphone powered by a new BlackBerry operating system called BlackBerry 10. The problem, however, was that much of the phone was cobbled together from pieces of software that weren't actually built by BlackBerry, and the phone had little to no popular apps when it came out — leading it to be a complete flop that cost the company nearly $1 billion, and Heins his job.


Dell, formerly one of the most prominent tech companies in the world, basically missed out on the memo that the entire PC market was collapsing as the iPad and other tablets gradually ate away at it. The result: Dell finally went private last month in order to navigate a tricky transition to becoming more of an enterprise services company than a PC maker.

Hewlett-Packard is also in a similar boat, though its enterprise services are a bit more fleshed out and the company is still publicly-traded under the leadership of new CEO Meg Whitman.

Kodak and photos used to go hand-in-hand. Then digital cameras and smartphones completely annihilated that business (along with several others in Kodak's portfolio), and the company didn't really do much about it. Kodak exited bankruptcy in September, focusing more on enterprise products — like film for the movie industry.


After losing its dominant share in the phone market, Nokia bet it all on Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets. Then, it turned around and sold to Microsoft for a fraction of the market cap of competitors like Apple and Google. Better yet: former CEO Stephen Elop might actually end up in charge at Microsoft.

Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz's hire was applauded as a move to finally turn around Yahoo, which had basically stagnated. She had a sort of take-no-prisoners approach and was brought in to clean up the company.

Unfortunately, even with major changes and deals, Yahoo still didn't find a new niche to grow into, and the company's advertising business — and stock price with it — still struggled. As a result, she got the boot in 2011 to make room for another new CEO, Scott Thompson, who would also get punted in favor of the current CEO, former Googler Marissa Mayer.

HTC was the leading smartphone maker in the U.S. just two years ago, but after a recent string of bad quarters and weaker brand recognition than rivals like Samsung and corporate turnover, HTC is in bad shape. The unfortunate part: its most-recent smartphone, the HTC one, was almost universally adored by tech critics.

While BlackBerry was scrambling to find an answer to the iPhone, it already had two things that could have helped differentiate itself from the iPhone: the keyboard and BlackBerry Messenger. Former co-CEO Jim Balsillie reportedly sought to push carriers to adopt BBM and weaponize that into a full business.

Later on, BlackBerry would consider spinning off BBM, but Apple had already found an answer to it with iMessage. Multiple other messaging apps like WhatsApp had exploited the absence of it on the iPhone and Android devices. (For what it's worth, BBM is now available on the iPhone and Android.)

Matthew Lynley is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News in San Francisco. Lynley reports on Silicon Valley and the tech industry.

Contact Matthew Lynley at

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