A pretty sure sign that a company is going down the tubes is selling its office space. So, yeah, as if the $1 billion loss and 4,500 layoffs weren’t enough bad news, BlackBerry is unloading its Canadian real estate.
In fact, they might be selling off their twenty buildings in something of a fire sale. By all accounts they want that “value” “unlocked” very, very quickly:
It embarked last week on a confidential process with real estate firms, asking them to outline ideas to generate the largest possible return in as little time as possible, according to sources. BlackBerry is willing to entertain a variety of options, including selling the portfolio and leasing back space, although it wants to retain a handful of key buildings, these sources said.
This is bad for two reasons: One, obviously, is that if you want to build things and sell them, you need a physical space for your employees to have meetings and solder things and generally do stuff. It’s true that firing more than forty percent of your workforce will drastically reduce your space needs, but even so, yikes. The second is a little more unpleasant.
The simple reality is that a lot of the time, a sale like this means a company is preparing to gut itself and sell the chunks, right down to the office furniture if it has to, to get their debt paid off and look more attractive to a buyer. BlackBerry is, of course, going private, but generally that involves a lot of “fat-trimming” and other fun euphemisms for “Sell as much of your useless stuff as possible.” And BlackBerry isn’t even sold yet.
In other words, this is a sign that we might see something spectacularly ugly sooner rather than later, like the company going up in a puff of smoke. We guess that’s what happens when you ship your tablet without an email client.
(Image courtesy of Matt Hurst on Flickr)