It is the end of yet another era at the former Research in Motion.
During its quarterly earnings call this morning, the newly-christened BlackBerry announced that Mike Lazaridis will retire as vice chairman and director of the Canadian company on May 1. The move, while mostly symbolic, is the latest milestone in the company's turnaround effort in which it replaced its leadership team and shed employees in response to rapidly declining revenues.
"Mike revolutionized the mobile communications industry and is widely recognized as one of Canada's greatest innovators," chief executive Thorsten Heins said. "He's played a pivotal role in the last 15 months with the launch of BlackBerry 10. I deeply respect his desire to devote his full-time efforts to his new venture."
That new venture is Quantum Valley Investments, a $100 million investment fund that is focused on commercial applications in quantum information science. His interest in the field has been long-established, and his name adorns the "Quantum-Nano Centre" at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Lazaridis has indicated his interest in building a "Quantum Valley" in Canada.
Lazaridis famously co-founded RIM almost 30 years ago. Until last year, he served as a co-CEO of the company alongside Jim Balsillie. The pair were a force to be reckoned with during RIM's "CrackBerry" heyday, when everyone on Capitol Hill seemed to have one and owners proudly displayed their "BlackBerry thumb" injuries. But they were increasingly seen as out-of-touch and a liability as the company's fortunes reversed when the mobile market moved to favor touchscreen devices. Under fire from investors (and virtually everyone else), the duo handed the reins over to Heins, then the company's chief operating officer.