Saturday, October 3, 2015

Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise And Fall Of Blackberry

I read mostly non-fiction books but very few about business. Research in Motion, now known as Blackberry, has been a fascinating stock to follow. Losing the Signal tells the story behind the company's dramatic rise and fall.

It was a classic modern business story: two Canadian entrepreneurs build an iconic brand that would forever change the way we communicate. From its humble beginnings in an office above a bagel store in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry outsmarted the global giants with an addictive smartphone that generated billions of dollars. Its devices were so ubiquitous that even President Barack Obama favoured them above all others. But just as it was emerging as the dominant global player, BlackBerry took a dramatic turn.

The Startup That Never Grew Up is the riveting, never-before-told story of one of the most spectacular technological upsets of the 21st century. Unlike Enron, which was undone by its executives’ illegal activities, or Lehman Brothers, which collapsed as part of a larger global banking crisis, BlackBerry's rise and fall is a modern-day tale of the unrelenting speed of success and failure. It is a thrilling account of how two mismatched CEOs outsmarted more-powerful competitors with a combination of innovation and sharp-elbowed tactics; and how, once on top of the world, they lost their way. The company responded too slowly to competitors' innovations, and when it finally made its move, it stumbled with delayed, poorly designed and unpopular smartphones. A little more than a decade after Research In Motion introduced the BlackBerry, it is now struggling to survive. Its share of the US phone market fell from 50 per cent in 2009 to about one percent in 2013, showing just how aggressive, fast and unforgiving today’s global business market can be.

I really enjoyed the book but found the story of the company's rise was far more interesting than its fall. The relationship between RIM founder Mike Lazaridis and its CEO Jim Balsillie was very interesting. Lazaridis was all technology while Balsillie was all about getting the product's name out in the world. They were two completely different individuals who worked well together but never hung around each other away from the office.

The book even goes into Jim Balsillie's failed attempts to buy an NHL franchise. He found all about the politic's of the NHL's team owners. No amount of money was going to let him in.

One thing that I found interesting is that both found new technology that was dismissed by their competitors, much to their delight, and they took full advantage of that.  Yet when new technology such as Smart Phones came out to challenge the Blackberry, Balsillie and Lazaridis were the first to dismiss them feeling they would never catch on. They never looked at their own company's history from the outside and it cost them.

Losing the Signal is a well-researched and well-written interesting book worth reading.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Comeback Victory for Toronto Blue Jays in their Last Regular Season Home Game

Teena and I enjoy going to Toronto Blue Jays games, especially the first game, the Canada Day game and the last home game of the year.

Today was the last regular season home game and the Jays came in looking to keep or extend their lead over the Yankees for first place in the eastern division. They were taking on the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was a beautiful day for a game.

Here we are with our rally towels. The first twenty thousand fans received Blue Jay hoodies. The people in front of us arrived at 10:05am and only 3 of the 4 of them got hoodies. They heard some people had lined up as early as 6:30am!

The music each player has selected for themselves to be played as they walk up to the plate.

First pitch.

Buehrle in action later on in the game. The defense behind him was a little shaky in the early going and the Jays found themselves down 4-1 after 4 innings. Buehrle pitched 6 full innings before being pulled.

Weird cloud formations.

We just missed this double play.

The cover on my camera hasn't been closing properly. Partway through the game, the front piece game off and pieces went flying. Camera still worked great, though.

Every Sunday since 2012, the Toronto Blue Jays have done a Sunday salute, honouring a member of our Canadian Armed Forces. Today it was Sergeant Steve Pugh.

The place was packed. 47.287 fans were in attendance, all with rally towels.

Down 4-1 in the sixth, Justin Smoak fouls one off with a man on base.

He didn't miss on the next pitch, a two run home run!

This pot would have been sweet to win. We bought $10 worth but weren't close.

The largest home attendance sine 1995.

These fans love our big three, Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion.

Brett Cecil came in for the ninth inning and shut down the Rays.

In the bottom of the ninth, the man who should be this years MVP drills a home run to left field for a walk-off victory. The place went nuts!

What a fun afternoon! Seeing a win is much more fun than a loss and to be there for a game winning homerun to complete a  late game comeback, well ...

I doubt that we'll be able to get playoff tickets but we'll be watching all of them for sure. What a hell of a year! I feel we'll be watching the Jays once again, 22 years later in the World Series!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Oktoberfest at the Gladstone Hotel

Tonight Teena and I were at the Oktoberfest celebration at the Gladstone Hotel.

These guys were great with their German tunes all night.

The beer was great.

Teena and the band.. They seemed to like us.

It was a fun night. Great deal, well be back again next year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blue Jays Rock Yankees 4-0, Magic Number now Just 8

Tonight 37 of us from work were at the Toronto Blue Jays - Yankees ball game. The Jays came into the game with a two and a half game lead over the Yankees for first place in the East Division. A win would put them that much closer to a play-off berth. Marcus Stroman, who was supposed to be out with an injury for the entire season, was making his third start after having won his first two.

Before hand, about twenty of us hit the 3 Brewers on Adelaide for some beer and food.

Marcus Stroman in action. Look at the bend in his arm!

The whole gang!


The Rogers Centre was packed.


Bautista fouls one off. He went hit less for the night.

Swing and a miss.

The Jays chase Ivan Nova from the game after he walked Jays catcher Russell Martin. Martin would come around to score in the inning.

Alex Rodriguez was caught taking performance enhancing drugs and was suspended for a year. Nobody knows for sure how many seasons he did this so Blue Jay fans let A-Rod know every time he comes to bat that any record he sets will have an asterisk by it.

Ha! I love it!

Russell Martin, who until the 7th inning had scored the game's only run, blasted a three run homer to left field giving the Jays a late 4-0 lead. In the ninth inning, Roberto Osuna came in to shut down the Yankees in the ninth, giving the Jays a 4-0 shutout victory and a three and a half game lead over the second place Yankees.

The Jays magic number is now 8. Any combination of Jays wins and Yankee loses from here to the end of the season, clinches first place for the Toronto Blue Jays for the first time since 1993.

What a year!

The stats.