RIM Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis Set to Resign


The Wall Street Journal reports that the end of an era has occurred for Canada’s tech darling, Research in Motion, as both co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have resigned as co-chairmen:

RIM was expected to announce early Monday that Mr. Lazaridis, who in 1984 co-founded the company using a loan from his parents, and Mr. Balsillie, who joined him in 1992, had stepped down as executives and had relinquished their roles as co-chairmen. The board was expected to name Thorsten Heins, previously one of two chief operating officers, to be chief executive, according to the company.

RIM’s website has already been updated to reflect the leadership changes and a press release notes the following statements:

Mr. Heins said he looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Lazaridis, globally recognized as a technology pioneer. He said, “Mike created a whole new way of communicating and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration.”

On the transition to CEO by Mr. Heins, Mr. Lazaridis said, “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.  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.”

Jim Balsillie remains a member of the Board. “I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company,” he said. “I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support.”

Mr. Lazaridis said that he decided to move from Co-Chair to Vice Chair of the Board in order to return the public’s focus to what is most important: “the great company we have built, its iconic products, global brand and its talented employees.”

It comes to no surprise that this move has finally happened, as RIM supporters have for years hoped for actual compelling products to emerge, aside from blunders such as the BlackBerry Storm, Torch, and their failed attempt at a tablet, the $485 million dollar write off known as the PlayBook.

Early on when the original iPhone first launched RIM thought the device was actually impossible. During Apple’s famed ‘Antennagate’, Steve Jobs famously demonstrated how even a BlackBerry suffered from signal deficiencies, in which RIM promptly responded. RIM launched their own app store, known as App World, but developers dismissed it. At one point, RIM dominated the smartphone arena, but failed to innovate and keep up with emerging offerings from Android handset makers and Apple. Add these stories up and you get the prize of being the Business Newsmakers of 2011 as chosen by the Canadian Press for all the wrong reasons. Best of luck turning the ship around, Mr. Heins.

Here’s a video of the new CEO, a former Siemens executive:

What’s your reaction to this breaking news story?


  • Anonymous

    Not really surprised. This was long overdue.

    Hats off to the new guy though. Hopefully he can turn things around.

  • Yup. Although I wonder how much control the new CEO will have, as the co-CEOs have set this all up. A possible puppet CEO?

  • Anonymous

    That’s what I was thinking as well.

  • Anonymous

    This won’t help,RIM still needs to innovate. 

  • Appelle

    Putting Heins in charge reminds me of that song “Puppet on a String”

  • Rjim

    The next Nortel.

  • Anonymous

    Rearranging deck chairs on the Costa Concordia…

  • Menna00

    Corporate world should learn something from this, RIM was untouchable for number of years, 40% corporate world still hooked on it. But now time has changed, today Apple stands a lot higher than where RIM ever was. But I wonder how long apple can hold, someone will claim this spot sooner or later, (windows maybe)

  • Douggy genro

    I know the city
    Ofwaterloo is f***ed because they laid over 3000 workers off. Its sad too concidering it is a canadian company. However i dont blame them. Samsung and apple are rocking the world. The torch was the only decent phone out there and even still it sucked. The app store they created failed. What they should have focused on is more corperate or more differet phone designs. The only thing that was carrying them was the bbm but even when it sufferd plenty of downtime there were not many happy campers!

  • Anonymous

    Good insights

  • Cindy

    He sounds so boring and contrite. I believe RIM is dead!

  • xxJDxx

    This seems appropriate given RIM’s poor decisions so far. What this company needs is a dramatic change. Not just passing things on to the next guy in line who has been in on every poor decision made thus far…..