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HTC finally hires a new CFO after more than two years of searching

TechCrunch TechCrunch 8/06/2016 Jon Russell

Fancy taking over the finances at an Android smartphone maker that is bleeding money, struggling on the stock exchange, without a component business unit to absorb the losses, and generally out of shape?

That’s probably not the job description that HTC put out for a new CFO, but, even with the most beautiful prose at its disposal, the company has certainly been challenged to fill the role. The Taiwanese mobile firm started looking for a new CFO in May 2014 and, more than two years later, the long hunt is finally over after it announced that Peter Shen, formerly of Taiwan-based Inotera Memories and HP, has taken the job.

Shen, whose full title is Chief Financial Officer and Company Spokesperson, replaces incumbent Chialin Chang, a regular voice on HTC investor calls, who will now revert to running the sales business.

CFO and sales chief are two hugely important positions for HTC, which has publicly struggled financially in recent years, right now.

Q1 2016 represented its fourth straight quarter in the red, with a $148 million loss for the period as quarterly revenue fell by a whopping 64 percent year-on-year. Aside from a spate of disappointing financial results, Chang’s tenure as CFO also saw the company spend time worthless, as it traded at less than its cash in hand, while things got so bad that it stopped providing financial guidance to investors and the public.

HTC’s phones are continuing to bomb in terms of sales — though they are generally well-received by media and loyal customers, like the HTC 10 — but the company is pinning its hopes of a comeback on a series of flagship smartphones and new tech initiatives. The company’s Vive VR headset, which began shipping at a faster two to three business day rate this week, is perhaps the most obviously new focus, alongside a suite of wearables, which include a partnership with Under Armor to develop a fitness tracker.

Can HTC turn it around? It has certainly been in a rut for so long that it is hard to see anything redeeming the company and restoring it to former glories, but the future is still to be told. Shen, Chang and co certainly have plenty on their plate for 2016 and beyond.

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