RIM co-founders step down as chairmen, CEOs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


Research in Motion co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have resigned from their posts as co-chairmen of the board and co-Chief Executive Officers and are to be replaced by former Chief Operating Officer Thorsten Heins as CEO and Barbara Stymiest as independent chair.



The Waterloo, Ont., smartphone maker made the announcement on Sunday, noting that the shuffle is effective immediately.



Lazaridis will transition to a Vice Chair role on the board, as well as Chair of its new Innovation Committee. Balsillie will remain a member of the board,



“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now," Lazaridis said.



"With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond. Jim, the Board and I all agreed that leader should be Thorsten Heins.”



Balsillie also publicly stated that it is the "right time to pass the baton," expressing "complete confidence" in the new management team. “I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support,” he said.



Heins is a relative newcomer to RIM, as he joined the company as Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering in December 2007. He became COO for Product and Sales in August 2011. Prior to joining RIM, he worked at Siemens and has built up 27 years of experience in "wireless networks and consumer electronics devices," according to a brief bio provided by the company.











His promotion has come as a surprise to some pundits. The Wall Street Journal characterized him as a "little-known company insider."



Stymiest, the new chairwoman, is also fairly new to the board of the BlackBerry maker, having joined in March 2007. She currently serves as an executive at the Royal Bank of Canada. Earlier this month, reports emerged that she was "a lock" for the position.











The corporate shake-up comes as investors had become vocal in calling for a change in leadership. Last June, the company organized a committee to investigate its organizational structure after an activist shareholder questioned the need for co-CEOs.



RIM has struggled in recent years to answer the threat posed by Apple's iPhone and the Google Android mobile OS. The company laid off more than 10 percent of its workforce, or 2,000 employees, last year in an effort to cut costs.



The BlackBerry Playbook, meant to be RIM's response to the iPad, ended up being a substantial failure, costing the company $485 million due to unsold inventory. Analysts were also troubled by delays in the new BlackBerry 10 OS that will allow Apple and Google to widen their lead on RIM.



However, some analysts viewed RIM's co-founders as the biggest issue the company was facing. Lazaridis and Balsillie have come to be viewed as out of touch with the market and unable to take the company in a new direction.



“There’s a bigger problem than the market share erosion and product delays,” one analyst told the publication off the record early this month. “It’s Mike and Jim.”



Though it's too early to tell, Heins does not appear as yet to have plans to drastically change RIM's strategy. In Sunday's press release, he affirmed Lazaridis and Balsillie's decision to purchase QNX a year and a half ago.



“We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim’s continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company’s future," he said.



He did admit that the company had faced some "inevitable growing pains" and asserted his belief that RIM is stronger as a result.



“Going forward, we will continue to focus both on short-term and long-term growth, strategic planning, a customer- and market-based product approach, and flawless execution," he said, adding that RIM is in the process of recruiting a new Chief Marketing Officer.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    WOW, that took long enough.
  • Reply 2 of 71
    Wow. Didn't see that coming.











    Who am I kidding. We all saw it coming.
  • Reply 3 of 71
    LOL. "?There comes a time in the growth of every successful company ...."



    What company are they talking about?
  • Reply 4 of 71
    They sure took their time getting rid of that incompetent duo.
  • Reply 5 of 71
    If I were a shareholder, I'd punish them further for being so arrogant even in the end. They drove so much value and talent out of the company that it's almost criminal.



    I'm sure RIM will continue on, but any further missteps is going to sink the ship. Anyone want to place bets on whether they'll meet timelines for new os and products?
  • Reply 6 of 71
    A couple of years from now, we'll be wondering, 'Thorsten who'?
  • Reply 7 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    A couple of years from now, we'll be wondering, 'Thorsten who'?



    Thorsten Spindler
  • Reply 8 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Thorsten Spindler



    Pretty much.

    So now that he's CEO, Thorsten can buy more $300K sports cars to park in the RIM 11 parking lot
  • Reply 9 of 71
    Wow a long time due, after literally suffocating the company with their fatherly love.. The question now is, does Blackberry have enough steam left in them to up their game. It is going to be difficult not impossible.
  • Reply 10 of 71
    The thing is, I doubt this will suddenly change things for the better. RIM is still bleeding marketshare, despite doing all they can to mimic the iPhone and iPad's design and concept. They got touchscreen phones. Check. They got a BlackBerry-branded App Store. Check. They rushed an iPad-like tablet to market. Check. They embedded a downloadable music store. Check. They run TV ads portraying BBM fans as fun, young, and hip. Check. What's coming is more of the same: more touchscreen phones, a bigger tablet. More "copy Apple." I don't think these guys stepping down as CEOs will change anything. Promoting a hand-picked insider like Thorsten Heins is not bringing fresh blood to the company. (Sorry buddy). Nor is keeping these guys on the board going to result in the necessary "come to Jesus moment" before it is too late. My belief is that they're headed for Palm's fate.
  • Reply 11 of 71
    Quote:

    Lazaridis will transition to a Vice Chair role on the board, as well as Chair of its new Innovation Committee.



    Anyone else see a problem with this? Chair the Innovation committee? This is the same guy that couldn't lead his company out of a wet paper bag, with a map and a flashlight, yet he's going to lead the "innovation committee"? Yeah, okay. Might want to sell any remaining stock in RIM now!
  • Reply 12 of 71
    This company will be sold off and parted out.
  • Reply 13 of 71
    lol rim
  • Reply 14 of 71
    Jumping ship just before it goes down. Maybe house arrest is in order. lol
  • Reply 15 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ?There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now," Lazaridis said.





    This is passing the Baton RIM STYLE
  • Reply 16 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mac.World View Post


    Anyone else see a problem with this? Chair the Innovation committee? This is the same guy that couldn't lead his company out of a wet paper bag, with a map and a flashlight, yet he's going to lead the "innovation committee"? Yeah, okay. Might want to sell any remaining stock in RIM now!



    It's actually pretty easy.



    1. Read AppleInsider for rumors related to future Apple products

    2. Seed the idea with the "innovation committee"

    3. Announce RIM TV a year later



  • Reply 17 of 71
    RIM's Blackberry: The CE version of a one hit wonder.



    Many iterations of a single product but essentially a one hit wonder. It just goes to show you that if a company wants to stay on top, it will have to innovate to diversify its product lineup....like....Apple!
  • Reply 18 of 71
    Amateur hour over, indeed!

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  • Reply 19 of 71
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    That new phase for RIM is called bankruptcy. They held on way too long. We're on the 5th iteration of the iPhone and the Blackberry devices haven't progressed much. I know as I'm on my 4th corporate Blackberry in as many years. Blackberry OS 10 will be too little and too late.



    I bet they'll call it Blackberry OSX just to get some hype from the Apple crowd.
  • Reply 20 of 71
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,735member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kestral View Post


    Pretty much.

    So now that he's CEO, Thorsten can buy more $300K sports cars to park in the RIM 11 parking lot



    Is he the one I've seen driving the Tesla Roadster around town?



    Cheech and Chong took too long to make this decision.
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