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BlackBerry is now one of the world's leading cybersecurity firms

Blackberry, the Waterloo-based smartphone innovator, has announced a $1+ billion cybersecurity and artificial intelligence acquisition.

Last week, Waterloo-based BlackBerry announced that it has acquired Cylance, an artificial intelligence and cybersecurity company, for $1.4 billion. This acquisition makes BlackBerry – once known primarily for building the world’s most secure smartphones – one of the world’s largest cybersecurity firms.

The company says that Cylance’s machine learning and AI technology is a strategic addition to its end-to-end secure communications portfolio. In particular, the addition of this embedded AI tech will accelerate the development of BlackBerry Spark – a secure communication platform for the Internet-of-Things.

“Today BlackBerry took a giant step forward toward our goal of being the world’s largest and most trusted AI-cybersecurity company,” said BlackBerry CEO and executive chairman John Chen.

“Securing endpoints and the data that flows between them is absolutely critical in today’s hyperconnected world. By adding Cylance’s technology to our arsenal of cybersecurity solutions we will help enterprises intelligently connect, protect and build secure endpoints that users can trust.” 

This investment makes BlackBerry a big fish in the flourishing Waterloo security ecosystem. As our new Security Cluster Map demonstrates, Waterloo is now home to more than 50 security companies, including fast-growing scale-ups like eSentire and Magnet Forensics and a burgeoning quantum security community.

The Cylance acquisition is just the latest big announcement from BlackBerry – two weeks ago the company announced a $310.5 million investment into autonomous vehicle technology. This investment was supported with an additional $40 million from Canada’s federal government.

Once known primarily for inventing the smartphone, BlackBerry’s shift to software in Internet-of-Things, cybersecurity and AutoTech has helped the company regain some of its swagger. In December, the company reported quarterly sales that beat analysts’ forecasts – which has now happened in six straight quarters – signalling the reinvention as a software company is a success.

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