Official statement from RIM on the leadership shuffle (Video)

Ian Hardy

January 22, 2012 10:01 pm


Here’s the official statement from RIM about the leadership team, direction and focus – plus a 7 minute video that introduces Thorsten Heins as the new President and CEO.

“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.”

January 22, 2012 21:39 ET
Research In Motion Names Thorsten Heins President and CEO
- Board Acts on Recommendation of Co-CEOs to Implement Succession Plan
- Mike Lazaridis Named Vice Chair of the Board
- Jim Balsillie Remains a Director
- Barbara Stymiest Named Independent Board Chair
- Prem Watsa Named Independent Director

WATERLOO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Jan. 22, 2012) – The Board of Directors of BlackBerry® maker Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSX:RIM) today announced that, acting on the recommendation of its Co-Chief Executive Officers to implement the succession plan they previously submitted to the Board, it has unanimously named Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Heins was also appointed to RIM’s Board. The Board acted after conducting its own due diligence. Both appointments are effective immediately.

Mike Lazaridis, former Co-Chair and Co-CEO, has become Vice Chair of RIM’s Board and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee. As Vice Chair, he will work closely with Mr. Heins to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide.

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.”

Mr. Lazaridis added, “Thorsten has demonstrated throughout his tenure at RIM that he has the right mix of leadership, relevant industry experience and skills to take the company forward. We have been impressed with his operational skills at both RIM and Siemens. I am so confident in RIM’s future that I intend to purchase an additional $50 million of the company’s shares, as permitted, in the open market.”

Mr. Heins said he believes that RIM has tremendous potential. He joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in December 2007 as Senior Vice President for Hardware Engineering and became Chief Operating Officer for Product and Sales in August 2011.

“Mike and Jim took a bold step 18 months ago when RIM purchased QNX to shepherd the transformation of the BlackBerry platform for the next decade,” Mr. Heins said. “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.”

Mr. Heins said that RIM has a strong foundation on which to build. “We have a strong balance sheet with approximately $1.5 billion in cash at the end of the last quarter and negligible debt. We reported revenue of $5.2 billion in our last quarter, up 24% from the prior quarter, and a 35% year-to-year increase in the BlackBerry subscriber base, which is now over 75 million.”

Mr. Heins said, “BlackBerry 7 has been well received. We are very excited about PlayBook 2.0 and BlackBerry 10. The reception of our products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was encouraging.”
He continued, “RIM earned its reputation by focusing relentlessly on the customer and delivering unique mobile communications solutions. We intend to build on this heritage to expand BlackBerry’s leadership position.”

Mr. 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.

“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. We are in the process of recruiting a new Chief Marketing Officer to work closely with our product and sales teams to deliver the most compelling products and services.”

Barbara Stymiest, who formerly served as a member of Royal Bank of Canada’s Group Executive and has been a member of RIM’s Board since 2007, has been named the independent Board Chair. John Richardson, formerly Lead Director, will remain on the Board. Prem Watsa, Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings, also was named to the Board, expanding it to 11 members.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, Ms. Stymiest said: “We believe that Thorsten is the right executive to succeed Mike and Jim. He has 27 years of telecommunications experience, including four years at RIM in senior management positions. As a Board, we have been impressed with his outstanding management skills, his leadership and his accomplishments within the company.”

Ms. Stymiest also expressed the Board’s respect and admiration for Messrs. Lazaridis and Balsillie, the company they built, and the steps they have taken to position RIM for the future.

“They created RIM, nurtured it, and in the process not only built an iconic brand, but literally pioneered the smartphone industry,” she said. “It is Canada’s largest tech company and one of the largest in the world.”

  • Betty Koyle

    Rip Rim

    • InfinitiGuy

      Betty the troll.

    • notmuchchange

      Not much has changed!
      Think about it they were BOTH CEOs and had positions in the board. If they had quit the boeard and kept the CEO position they could have been kicked at any moment, now that the press is finally pushing. So they gave up the CEO position, they named ANOTHER engineer that they concro and they remained Vice president of the board while backing the new CEO. NOT much has changed! Stock holders know this, this will have the effect of just snother rumor and will be gone in one week. Expect 15% incresase in shares, gone by the end of the week.
      If there are any changes indeed they will take at lesst 3 months to take effect.

  • ICA

    Not RIP. RIPE. For some good change. Vive la RIM!

  • Kid.Canada

    As a bb fan this is great news!! So excited to see what this new guy has up his sleeve!

  • Stacy

    Is there a way to make my IPhone work with RIM?

    • Dimitri k.

      Get out troll.

      On topic. This is good news. I have used Samsung and Apple and HTC AND even Motorola yet none of them have the best keybaord and safe and secure emailing and all. I love using my blackberry. Yes its not a dual core or have all this fancy and all the crap every other company puts to sell their phones but i am sure 75 million costumers are happy. People do not realize it all they care about is the hardware yet seeing as the phone was made to be a phone not a toy…

    • chall2k5

      yes, sell it and buy a bold touch

  • nick m

    Will Heins help RIM catchup? :-)

  • LeafsFan77

    This guy looks like Stephen Harper. I just hope he can turn RIM around for the better, unlike what Harper did with Canada.

  • bobo jones

    It is to little to late. No one more than me wants RIM to survive but they are at least one year behind. Look at Nokia, they saw the writing on the wall and acted. Maybe they saw RIM and said that will be us if we don’t act and they did and look at them now. Their phone was best of show at CES and people cannot wait for their product. It’s been over 5 years since RIM was in that position. The best thing i can say is buy as much stock as you can and when they are bought up by another company your stock becomes the new company and with luck it will be worth 5-10 times more than you paid. Do your research and good luck everyone.

  • aka

    I hope this announcement speeds up the release of QNX phones, why wait for LTE, when there’s good dual-core processors with HSPA+ capabilities is available? They have to strike the market now!

  • roman129

    Ha ha, “Sometimes we innovate too much..”

  • Garfield

    At least this new CEO has a business plan for RIM shareholders to take notice. Hopefully, this is the first step, bringing RIM back with the competition.

  • Phyxius

    i may not have been sporting a bb device for a while now, but i don’t want to see a canadian company go down the tubes. i would much prefer seeing a blackberry in my hands than that dreaded windows phone. hope you know what you are doing RIM and come back stronger.

  • mark

    Le RIM est mort, vive le RIM.

    • I forgot my meds

      Either get a designated driver or call a cab.

  • DogSoldiers

    Interesting…I’m not a Blackberry fan at all, but as a fellow Canuck, I hope RIM get their stuff together and turn the company around and get it moving in the right direction again.

  • Big 3

    I hope the new CEO will be a Canadian ^.^

    Sadly, RIM devices are Canada’s last consumer products sold internationally =(

    before 2006 Canada had 2 global consumer brands(before ATI Graphics got bought out)

    Even the small city HK has more consumer products than our country sold internationally(Espirit, Husky Energy, Giorando, vTech, INQ just to name a few).

  • Dave

    These two doorknobs EX-CEO should have been kick out of the door like 3 years ago. It’s kind a little too late by now.

  • Rich

    “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.”

    No. you were wrong. The right time would have been over a year ago.

  • Domingo

    Typical canadian business story of complacency. They did this to themselves. This alone will not be enough. This WITH a couple of home run hardware might be enough to BEGIN a turn around. They can’t afford to get it wrong. I figure they have until the end of 2012 and then they won’t be able to stop the bleeding. Oh and hire some fresh blood with imagination, imagination being the key.

  • bob

    The new CEO do not get it. He seems to think that they only need better marketing to sell more to consumers while they need better products.

    • Sam

      Better marketing only works for the apple cult, apple is second to none when it comes to marketing to the kool-aid drinkers. For independant thinkers they’re going to have to do a lot more.

  • firzen_net

    This guy really reminds me of Stephen Harper. He really looks like him. Iuno.