In an announcement made by Research In Motion regarding a management shuffle, both the company’s Co-Chief Executives have resigned from their current positions. Effective immediately, Thorsten Heins, who is currently one of the company’s Chief Operating Officers, will be the new CEO following the departure of Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. In a statement issued by Lazaridis, he said that every big company needs a change in leadership where the founders need to hand the baton to fresh leadership and that the time had come for the co-founders to do the same.
Heins joined the company in December 2007 as the Senior Vice President of hardware engineering and soon moved up to become the Chief Operations Officer for product and sales by August 2011 and was named to RIM’s board of directors soon after. Balsillie will still remain a member of the board while Lazaridis will now chair the board’s new Innovation Committee while he will also become the Vice Chairman of the board. The new independent board chair will be Barbara Stymiest, a member of the board since 2007.
The past year has seen the company lose as much as three quarters of its market value following many vital miscues by the company. This decline has come in for sharp shareholder criticism while also prompting many investors and analysts to call for a change in management. Many analysts speculate that the move is aimed to regain some of the investor confidence lost over the past year. Last month saw the epitome of the downward spiral of the company as profits declined from $1.74 a share to 51 cents a share compared to the third quarter results. This translates to a net drop in profits from $911.1 million to $265 million.
However, the announcement of the duo’s departure as the co-chief executives has not come at a very good time for the company as the next generation of BlackBerry phones will not be released until the end of this year, leaving a long period without any new products. To add to the company’s woes, it could possibly be facing a class action law suit in Canada following a week long catastrophic failure of key Blackberry services last year. On October 10th 2011, the company faced its worst outage in 12 years as Blackberry Enterprise Services including web services, messaging and e-mail went down around the world due to a glitch in its European servers.