Reports: Gist, founders bail on troubled BlackBerry


Two executives in charge of spearheading key messaging and social networking features integrated into the BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) mobile operating system have left the company, according to reports.

Sources familiar with the departures told The Wall Street Journal that T.A. McCann, vice president in charge of the popular BlackBerry Messenger chat solution and founder of Gist, an enterprise social networking services firm acquired by BlackBerry in early 2011, resigned his position two weeks ago. Marc Gingras, whose cloud-based calendar and scheduling services startup was acquired by BlackBerry in 2011, has also exited in recent weeks: Gingras was in charge of retooling the calendar and contacts applications for the fledgling BlackBerry 10 OS and is credited as the driving force behind BlackBerry Hub, which offers a single point of access for all personal and professional conversations including Messenger, email and social media updates.

One insider told AllThingsD that McCann and Gingras "simply had it" with BlackBerry's struggles to compete against Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS. Another credited their departures to an "entrepreneurial itch." BlackBerry confirmed that McCann and Gingras are no longer with the company and said both exits were amicable.

BlackBerry introduced BlackBerry 10 in late January, pinning its comeback hopes on the revamped platform. Early signs are not encouraging: BlackBerry reported first-quarter net losses of $84 million, and research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech recently reported that BlackBerry products accounted for just 0.7 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales during the three-month period ending in May 2013, down from 4.6 percent in the year-earlier period. BlackBerry's subscriber base fell also by 4 million during the first quarter, slipping from 76 million to 72 million.  

Last month, BlackBerry reportedly fired Richard Piasentin, its head of U.S sales. Multiple media outlets indicate the company is also planning a round of layoffs.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)
- read this AllThingsD article

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