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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

John Chen may be the CEO of BlackBerry, but even he has to sometimes remind people the company is still in business.

Why it matters: BlackBerry no longer manufactures phones, but it makes more than $1 billion in revenue per year selling things like security software, an operating system widely used in cars and patent licenses.

Quick recap: BlackBerry bought embedded operating system QNX in 2010, exited the smartphone business in 2016 and started letting Chinese phone maker TCL sell BlackBerry-branded phones. Since then, it has been a software-only company.

By the numbers:

  • BlackBerry gets about $600 million from its so-called platform business, which includes the company's security and enterprise device management software efforts.
  • The app side of things, which includes QNX, generates around $400 million per year.
  • Licensing its portfolio of more than 38,000 patent families earns BlackBerry around $200 million–$250 million per year.

In an interview at CES last week, Chen talked about the company, its remaining businesses and why he thinks BlackBerry needs to be more aggressive.

  • The company is generating positive cash flow and eking out a small profit, but the naturally impatient Chen wants it to do better.
  • "We really do need to execute," Chen told Axios. "We could definitely do better."

Between the lines: Getting a bigger place in the car is a key priority for BlackBerry. The company's QNX operating system has been used primarily for in-car infotainment systems, but that is rapidly declining in value and now amounts to only $2–$5 per car.

But software for cars overall is a growth business as cars move toward autonomy and add features like automatic braking, parking and lane detection. Those types of systems can produced in the $10–$20 in software revenue per car.

"A car is going to end up with 100 million lines of code," Chen said. "It's amazing. That's much bigger than the lines of code in an F-14 fighter."

Yes, but: Getting automakers to adopt new technology is tough work and often takes years, Chen said.

Go deeper: BlackBerry drives into connected car market

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.

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