Research in Motion has given in to stakeholder pressure and pushed out its co-CEOs/co-chairmen Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis after a disastrous 2011, replacing them with COO Thorsten Heins.
Both men announced their resignation following a year that saw several of RIM’s key products delayed or released unfinished, a massive network outage that pushed customers to rival networks and a tumbling share price, which has collapsed by 88% since its high of US$144.56 in 2008.
While the company remains strong in the governmental sector, Apple’s iPhone has now displaced the BlackBerry as the enterprise smartphone of choice.
New chairperson Barbara Stymiest has been named the new Chairman, and her first course of business has been to promote virtual unknown COO Thorsten Heins as CEO effective today. He will also be the company president.
Founder Lazaridis will remain as assistant chairman, while Jim Balsillie will remain on the board.
Heins, who became COO in just August last year, joined the company in 2007 from Siemens AG. Some analysts had picked RIM to go on an external hunt for a ‘headliner’ CEO, but the board unanimously voted Heins.
"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," said Lazaridis.
While a pioneer in the smartphone market and a market leader for much of the 2000s, its failure to adapt to the arrival of Android and Apple, and its inability to develop viable tablet and touch screen devices to challenge Apple’s dominance.
Its new operating system has been delayed, and the new generation of smartphones now have vague release dates of late 2012.
Stymiest has been a member of RIM’s Board since 2007. 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.