THE TWO CEOs of Canadian phone maker Research in Motion (RIM) have stepped down with immediate effect.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who failed to reverse a steep decline at the Blackberry maker, will be replaced by German executive Thorsten Heins, who takes on the role of president and CEO.
Heins joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in December 2007 as SVP for hardware engineering and became COO for product and sales in August 2011. He is credited with playing a key role in the creation of RIM's product portfolio.
Balsillie and Lazaridis had been under immense pressure after RIM's share price fell 75 per cent last year.
Lazaridis has become vice chairman of RIM's board and chair of the board's new innovation committee, RIM said in a statement. As vice chair, he will work closely with Heins to "offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the Blackberry brand worldwide".
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."
Balsillie will also remain a member of the board.
Heins said that RIM has grown quickly. "As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains," he said. "We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result."
RIM is also in the process of recruiting a new chief marketing officer. The phone maker surged into the top five manufacturers in 2010 but in 2011 was hit by a massive service outage and growing competition in the smartphone market. Whether its new management structure will save it will only become clearer in time. µ