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RIM forms committee to investigate CEO roles as exec's open letter calls for change

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Faced with strong pressure from investors and an open letter from an anonymous executive calling for a new CEO, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has agreed to establish a committee to look into the company's executive and board roles.

RIM said in a statement Thursday that the committee would make recommendations on a corporate structure after completing its study, Reuters reports.

The decision is part of a deal with activist shareholder Northwest and Ethical Investments, which had filed a proposal for a vote on the issue. The mutual fund company, which owns close to 500,000 shares of RIM, has agreed to withdraw the proposal in light of the committee's founding.

The committee will consult NEI in "developing the specific terms of reference for this mandate" and will issue its report by January 31, 2012. RIM's board will have 30 days to respond.

An open letter

RIM's announcement comes the same day that BGR published an open letter allegedly from a "high-level" employee at RIM addressed to the company's Senior Management. Speaking frankly, the executive calls for radical changes to the company's strategy and management.

"I have lost confidence," the open letter begins. "While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams."

"We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months," the letter continued. "These people arent hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work."

The executive went on to note that rival mobile operating system Android has a "major weakness" in that it will always lack "the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control."

"Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time yes, on Exchange!" the letter continued.

The letter called new "heavy hitters at RIM" in software management, noting that competitors Apple, Google and Microsoft are "three of the biggest and most talented software companies on the planet." The executive described RIM's software teams as "demotivated" and "working crazy hours and still far behind."

The executive took a page from Apple CEO Steve Jobs' playbook and called for RIM's strategy to also focus on "the things you decide not to do."

"On that note, we simply must stop shipping incomplete products that arent ready for the end user. It is hurting our brand tremendously. It takes guts to not allow a product to launch that may be 90% ready with a quarter end in sight, but it will pay off in the long term," the letter read, pointing to Jobs' iconic 1997 keynote "for tips."

The letter pleaded with RIM's management to focus more on developer relationships and less on appeasing carriers and vendors. "There is no polite way to say this, but its true BlackBerry smartphone apps suck," the executive wrote. "Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps."

"Developing for BlackBerry is painful," the source said, comparing RIM's development platform to a "rundown 1990's Ford Explorer" and Apple's to a "shiny new BMW M3just such a pleasure to drive. The letter also quipped that "Canadians are too nice," claiming there is no accountability at the company.

The letter also took issue with the company's focus on Adobe Flash and multitasking in its products. "25 million iPad users dont care that it doesnt have Flash or true multitasking, so why make that a focus in our campaigns? Ill answer that for you: its because thats all that differentiates our products and its lazy marketing."

The alleged executive characterized recent questioning of the company's dual-CEO structure as "warranted" and called the partnership between RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie inefficient. "Maybe we need our [former Google CEO] Eric Schmidt reign period," the letter's author suggested.

"Overconfidence clouds good decision-making," the letter continued. "We missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago. We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it wont work.

"We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late. That is the painful truth it was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible."
"Perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO. There is no shame in no longer being a CEO. Mike, you could focus on innovation. Jim, you could focus on our carriers/customers They are our lifeblood."

The letter concluded by asking the company's management to "reach out to all employees" on how to make RIM better. "Were all reading the news and many are extremely nervous, especially when we see people get fired. We need an injection of confidence: share your strategy and ask us for support. The headhunters have already started circling and we are at risk of losing our best people."

A quick response

The Waterloo, Ont., company quickly responded to the letter, finding it "difficult to believe" that an executive in good standing wrote the letter. "Regardless of whether the letter is real, fake, exaggerated or written with ulterior motivations, it is fair to say that the senior management team at RIM is nonetheless fully aware of and aggressively addressing both the companys challenges and its opportunities," the company said.

RIM admitted that the company has recently concluded a "major business and technology transition" that took longer than expected. According to the company, the company has left behind a period of "hyper growth" in order to streamline its operations "to allow it to grow its business profitably while pursuing newer strategic opportunities." The smartphone maker sees itself as "in a solid business and financial position" with $3 billion in cash and no debt.

The company recently announced layoffs as sales, prices and profits have plummeted. Analysts described the company's recent financial performance as "when a disaster turns into a nightmare" and a "one-trick pony" whose one trick no longer works.
post #2 of 37
Understand their are openings at Burger King.
post #3 of 37
John Gruber's take on this is great
post #4 of 37
January 31, 2012?

It might as well be January 31, 2112 in this business!
post #5 of 37
Half a million shares of RIMM?

Poor losers - literally!
post #6 of 37
The writer of that letter is my hero. And how is $3 billion impressive when Apple has more cash than the GDP of quite a few countries?
post #7 of 37
This is just natural selection taking place. Those species and companies that can not adapt to their environment die out and eventually become extinct. Such is life.
post #8 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

John Gruber's take on this is great

1) What's your take?

2) Who's John Gruber and why should we care?

3) If we should, why don't you summarize his 'take' for us?
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

This is just natural selection taking place. Those species and companies that can not adapt to their environment die out and eventually become extinct. Such is life.

Or death, as it were......
post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

2) Who's John Gruber and why should we care?

He's the moron who people can thank for starting the whole trend of idiotic iPad retina display comments that other morons like to endlessly repeat.
post #11 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

1) What's your take?

2) Who's John Gruber and why should we care?

3) If we should, why don't you summarize his 'take' for us?

1) My take is the same as Gruber’s. I agree with him 100%
2) This guy.... He is very insightful and gets quoted a lot in the tech industry.
3) I’ll do one better.

Cite
Quote:
So they have a plan, to create a committee, which will conduct a study and produce a report. Well then, problems solved.
post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

1) My take is the same as Grubers. I agree with him 100%
2) This guy.... He is very insightful and gets quoted a lot in the tech industry.
3) Ill do one better.

Cite

Wow. I am blown away! Such insight!
post #13 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

He's the moron who people can thank for starting the whole trend of idiotic iPad retina display comments that other morons like to endlessly repeat.

Thanks. That's what I was trying to recall.
post #14 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Wow. I am blown away! Such insight!

It made me laugh, your mileage may vary.
post #15 of 37
They ought to make that executive the CEO.

I know several people who work at RIM and that letter is spot-on.

I'm hoping that RIM can turn things around, but based on their reply, that is not likely. They've "completed a transition" have they? Seriously? With what product, exactly? The Playbook has promise, but was shipped too soon and half baked. When was the last time they shipped a truly new phone that was a hit... not in the last year.

I'm not against RIM in any way, but this guy said what needed to be said. He'll more than likely be unemployed by Monday if he isn't already. He'll likely also have another job by Tuesday cause he knows of what he speaks.

Jim and Mike... The fish stinks from the head down. In this case the heads down.
post #16 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilbo63 View Post

They ought to make that executive the CEO.

I know several people who work at RIM and that letter is spot-on.

I'm hoping that RIM can turn things around, but based on their reply, that is not likely. They've "completed a transition" have they? Seriously? With what product, exactly? The Playbook has promise, but was shipped too soon and half baked. When was the last time they shipped a truly new phone that was a hit... not in the last year.

I'm not against RIM in any way, but this guy said what needed to be said. He'll more than likely be unemployed by Monday if he isn't already. He'll likely also have another job by Tuesday cause he knows of what he speaks.

Jim and Mike... The fish stinks from the head down. In this case the heads down.

The question is how can they turn it around .... With what? They would need a Jobsian scale paradigm shift.
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
Reply
post #17 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

The question is how can they turn it around .... With what? They would need a Jobsian scale paradigm shift.

Agreed.

The longer that the co-CEO's remain defensive and in denial, the less likely it will ever happen. And that would be a shame. Their own high-ranking executive's suggestions might be a good place to start though. Trouble is they're not listening.

An investigative committee? Why didn't you say so? Problem solved.

The Powerpoint Presentation and pie graphs will be ready in August of 2014."
post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

This is just natural selection taking place. Those species and companies that can not adapt to their environment die out and eventually become extinct. Such is life.

This seems like some sort of accelerated natural selection, akin to doomed dinosaurs actively looking for cliffs to jump off.

"RIM said in a statement Thursday that the committee would make recommendations on a corporate structure after completing its study, Reuters reports.

The decision is part of a deal with activist shareholder Northwest and Ethical Investments, which had filed a proposal for a vote on the issue. The mutual fund company, which owns close to 500,000 shares of RIM, has agreed to withdraw the proposal in light of the committee's founding.

The committee will consult NEI in "developing the specific terms of reference for this mandate" and will issue its report by January 31, 2012. RIM's board will have 30 days to respond."


The irony is so thick I can take a big scoop out of it and eat it like ice cream. This is exactly the nonsense the open letter talked about:

1. No one willing to take charge and kick ass. Assembling a committee to study and then make recommendations is ridiculous this late in the game.

2. A deal with activist shareholders. The open letter mentioned pandering to carriers and other parties rather than focusing on the end user and end user experience. Again, at this critical juncture, the end user is the most important. Any sensible shareholder will recognise that.

3. Timeliness. January 31, 2012? Really? I mean, really? Over six months? This corporate disaster seems to be writing itself.

The open letter really describes a textbook case of a technology company that has lost its way. Nokia definitely seems like a raging bull compared to this donkey.

I'm really not a BlackBerry hater, I just didn't think it was this bad. I often refer to the time Steve Jobs said in the conference call in October last year that "We now passed RIM, and we don't see them catching up in the foreseeable future". At the time, I thought it was some typical Apple hype, oddly expounded on a conference call rather than in a keynote or press gathering. In any case, it's still amazing, Steve Jobs and I'm sure tons of RIM employees saw it back then.

And particularly this year, when a "Co-CEO" basically talks unintelligible gibberish (literally, look up his comments... they make virtually no sense at all)... you know something is off.
post #19 of 37
Yeah RIM's response actually validates what the executive was saying.
post #20 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

1) What's your take?

2) Who's John Gruber and why should we care?

3) If we should, why don't you summarize his 'take' for us?

1) What's your take?

2) Why should we care? (Okay, let's assume we do)

3) If we should, why don't you summarise your "take" for us?

post #21 of 37
As Ross Perot (remember him?) once said pithily during a US Presidential debate: "If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes."
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

1) What's your take?

2) Why should we care? (Okay, let's assume we do)

3) If we should, why don't you summarise your "take" for us?


See #4, #8, #9, and #21 above.

Perhaps you've not been reading this thread? Would you like me to gather it all for you in one place?
post #23 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

See #4, #8, #9, and #21 above.

Perhaps you've not been reading this thread? Would you like me to gather it all for you in one place?

I missed your #4 for some reason, it seemed too succinct . I'll give you #4, but no. #21 was written *after* me asking you on your "take". So you can't include it in "Perhaps you've not been reading this thread" .

Nonetheless, with #4 and #21, colour me satisfied.
post #24 of 37
I think the CEO did quite well all things considered. They were never ever gonna hold on to their lead no matter who was in charge.
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

I think the CEO did quite well all things considered. They were never ever gonna hold on to their lead no matter who was in charge.

I don't know about that. RIM have some pretty bright people. With better direction and good decisions, who knows? At least they could go down fighting.
post #26 of 37
RIM is in a really tough spot. It doesn't sound like a great proposition for any CEO to try and turn this thing around unless they really have some new and promising ideas percolating in the R&D dept. When SJ returned to Apple he managed to turn it around because his whole being is about creativity, perfection and salesmanship. He pared everything back to the core values as they once had been and pursued his goals single mindedly and with amazing clarity. SJ is clearly an amazing business man but its as if that part is just incidental. I am not sure that RIM, or anyone at RIM can feel as passionately about what they do and what they produce. If they don't have great products and in the pipeline they are screwed. Oh, and they REALLY need a marketing genius who can think different...ly.
post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

RIM is in a really tough spot. It doesn't sound like a great proposition for any CEO to try and turn this thing around unless they really have some new and promising ideas percolating in the R&D dept. When SJ returned to Apple he managed to turn it around because his whole being is about creativity, perfection and salesmanship. He pared everything back to the core values as they once had been and pursued his goals single mindedly and with amazing clarity. SJ is clearly an amazing business man but its as if that part is just incidental. I am not sure that RIM, or anyone at RIM can feel as passionately about what they do and what they produce. If they don't have great products and in the pipeline they are screwed. Oh, and they REALLY need a marketing genius who can think different...ly.

The weird thing about this whole RIM debacle is that Apple had a very different history. They had some amazing stuff for a good ten years, then Steve got kicked out and things got worse. Steve came back and it took another good ten years to fully realise his immense vision.

RIM came from nowhere to prominence only about five years ago. And clearly they lost their way after only about four years of blinding success but nonetheless are still profitable now and are growing in some global markets.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Steve had to resurrect a what was pretty much a dead body. Whoever is in charge of RIM just has to stop it from drinking poison and start eating healthy.
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

RIM is in a really tough spot. It doesn't sound like a great proposition for any CEO to try and turn this thing around unless they really have some new and promising ideas percolating in the R&D dept. When SJ returned to Apple he managed to turn it around because his whole being is about creativity, perfection and salesmanship. He pared everything back to the core values as they once had been and pursued his goals single mindedly and with amazing clarity. SJ is clearly an amazing business man but its as if that part is just incidental. I am not sure that RIM, or anyone at RIM can feel as passionately about what they do and what they produce. If they don't have great products and in the pipeline they are screwed. Oh, and they REALLY need a marketing genius who can think different...ly.

My nephew works in R & D at RIM. He claims that they have some really good stuff in the labs. He doesn't offer details and I don't ask. I hope that he's right. But even if they do, they still may have an uphill battle.
post #29 of 37
I'm sure everyone else will offer there thoughts on RIM.. so I'll do the same ;-)

I think their failure stems from thinking the iPhone would never be a threat to their business customers. I remember it all from the beginning through the eyes of the company I work for (a big'un).. somewhere around 2.4, there was a mad, almost desperate rush in my company to replace your BB with an iPhone. I mean crazed, like out of this world need! IT tried like hell to resist it at first, but it didn't take long for us to give up our BBs as well. And that trend has yet to stop, and has barely even slowed. I'm really surprised when I run across one these days.

I dunno if the young'ens here will recall, but it was like when 3DFX rested on their laurels and upstart nVidia came from behind to basically eat their lunch in a very short amount of time.

Now, every 'innovation' since the Bold has felt like a kneejerk reaction to what's happening in the market. Thing is, I think RIM could probably come back from this. But it's going to take possibly sitting out a cycle, having patience, and coming out with a finished product that is actually innovative rather than iterative.
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

RIM is in a really tough spot. It doesn't sound like a great proposition for any CEO to try and turn this thing around unless they really have some new and promising ideas percolating in the R&D dept. When SJ returned to Apple he managed to turn it around because his whole being is about creativity, perfection and salesmanship. He pared everything back to the core values as they once had been and pursued his goals single mindedly and with amazing clarity. SJ is clearly an amazing business man but its as if that part is just incidental. I am not sure that RIM, or anyone at RIM can feel as passionately about what they do and what they produce. If they don't have great products and in the pipeline they are screwed. Oh, and they REALLY need a marketing genius who can think different...ly.

you said "core values"
and you said "pared"
post #31 of 37
See, when you're rearranging the deckchairs, it's terribly important you do so with absolute and transparent fairness, otherwise people will complain.

A Committee is the best way to do this.
post #32 of 37
RIMM is way too late and is dying slowly. I will not be surprised that companies like Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft...etc are actively recruit RIMM's best minds away. It's really heartbroken to see RIMM has falling so far and so hard!!

RIMM R.I.P.
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work."

Adobe, you listening to this?
post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post

Adobe, you listening to this?

Air (and of course flash) is their future? Is that gas I smell?

post #35 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilbo63 View Post

My nephew works in R & D at RIM. He claims that they have some really good stuff in the labs. He doesn't offer details and I don't ask. I hope that he's right. But even if they do, they still may have an uphill battle.

So did Xerox back in the late 70's, but it took someone with vision (Jobs) to bring their ideas to fruition.

I don't see anyone in RIM with that kind of vision. There are only a handful of such people in the entire computer world, and none of them work for RIM.
post #36 of 37
Apart from the content of that letter, does anybody know if it is real?
post #37 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

John Gruber's take on this is great

Which take? Link?
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