C H U C K
H O W I T T
Short Listed for the
Speakers Book Award
"Success Has Many Parents..."
The smartphone was an incredibly successful Canadian invention created and popularized by a team of engineers and marketers led by Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. But there was a third key player involved -- the community of Kitchener-Waterloo.
In BlackBerry Town veteran KW Record reporter Chuck Howitt offers a new history of BlackBerry documenting how the resources and the people of Kitchener-Waterloo supported, facilitated, benefited from the rise of the tech giant as well as how the community coped with BlackBerry's eventual fall from commercial grace.
BlackBerry Town underlines how a mid-sized, diverse, and well-educated community can help grow a world-beating company, and demonstrates the importance of the attitudes and decisions of local institutions in enabling and sustaining successful innovation. Canada has a lot to learn from Kitchener-Waterloo - BlackBerry Town.
In this YouTube video Chuck entertainingly takes the viewer on a tour of
Howitt’s book is an honest, eye-opening, insightful examination of what made RIM/BlackBerry tick, and the factors behind one of the most compelling business stories — and dramatic implosions — in Canadian history.
- Carmi Levy, TCTV Technology Analyst & & Journalist
BlackBerry Town offers an incredibly detailed look at the early days of BlackBerry and the influential Canadian company’s founders . . . Chuck Howitt’s exhaustive reporting is unparalleled on the subject matter . . . I was shocked by how much I learned from Howitt's BlackBerry Town.
- Patrick O'Rourke,
Managing Editor, Mobile Syrup
BlackBerry Town (aka Bonfire of the Smartphones) outlining the book's origin and purpose.Chuck highlights BlackBerry Town's attention to character, storytelling, and sense of place.
""Thanks for writing such a comprehensive history of the region. It will be a great resource for many years to come and I hope the up and coming entrepreneurs read it.
Lots of great advice and lessons learned."
- Tom Jenkins, Board Chair and former CEO of Open Text
From BlackBerry Town
Rolling Up The RIM: Winning A Six Figure Payday
"Pete Gould would get an email from RIM payroll telling him his stock option cheque had arrived. When he went to pick it up, envelopes were laid out like Christmas cards on a display case for himself and other employees. 'When you open up the envelope and see a six-figure cheque with your name on it, it's a pretty frickin' incredible feeling.'"
BB At The Grand Ol’ Oprah
Open Text: The Little Search Engine That Could
"Rumours were starting to circulate about an exciting new thing called the World Wide Web. At a conference in the fall of 1994, Tim Bray, one of the founders of Open Text, heard a speech about the coming Web and the need for search technology to find data on it. His mind started racing. Could Open Text's search engine be the answer? It could crawl and parse. The only missing piece was a Web server. 'It could all be done and it wouldn't be that complicated. I got so excited that I was physically shaking on and off for the next three days.'"
"As head of T-Mobile marketing at RIM in 2003, Lindsay Gibson was contacted by the Oprah Winfrey show. Thrilled at the chance for RIM to go on one of America's most popular daytime programs, she put together a budget for the proposal and took it to the director of marketing. But the director was not impressed when she heard the details. Oprah wanted 350 free BlackBerrys to hand out to audience members along with other gifts from her list of favorite things. When Gibson persisted, the director left the decision up to her. 'You will either be the girl who got us on the Oprah show or the girl who wasted a lot of money on the Oprah show.' The BlackBerry's appearance on the show ended up being one of the marketing highlights of the year for RIM."
A Stormy Romance: Love At First Click
“In the beginning the critics loved it. They loved the clickable touchscreen on the BlackBerry Storm, the bold engineering behind it and the fact it didn't just copy the iPhone. "The term iPhone-killer is clumsily tossed around by bloggers and journos to describe almost any phone with a touchscreen, but by trying to actually innovate rather than imitate, RIM has conjured up a phone most deserving of the title yet," said Matt Buchanan of Gizmodo. ‘The true test of any touch-based phone is typing, and we won't hold any punches here: we're in love,’ gushed Paul Miller of Engadget.”
Gather Ye Engineers While Ye May
Who Wants To Work In The Sausage City?
"Record business editor Kevin Crowley was going through a stack of job applications in the fall of 2005 when one in particular jumped out at him. It was from a journalist who had grown up in Ohio, studied journalism at the University of Maryland, edited the campus newspaper there, then spent several years working at a daily newspaper in Warren, Ohio, south of Cleveland. Crowley scratched his head. The Record was a respected daily in the Canadian newspaper pantheon. But it was minor league compared to the large dailies about an hour down the road in Toronto. Why in the world would a reporter from Ohio want to work in another country and in Kitchener of all places? Yet, as Crowley looked through the clippings that Matt Walcoff had submitted with his application, he was impressed."
With blackberry filling?
“Later that day, Dave Caputo went for a walk with his two children to find some piece amid all the turmoil. It felt like the worst day of his life. His cell phone rang. On the line was Terry Matthews, the venture capital investor. After commiserating with the embattled Pixstream boss, his tone changed. ‘Dave, you've got to start another company. You can't let everyone scatter to the four corners of the earth.’ Caputo was taken aback. ‘But Terry, I just fired all my engineers today." "Well, you've got their fucking phone numbers don't you?’”