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:

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