RIM chiefs step aside; board appoints new chairwoman

Research in Motion's co-chiefs and co-founders will step aside in favour of new blood, as the company battles to claw its way back from the brink.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executives and co-chairmen of Research in Motion, the BlackBerry smartphone and tablet maker, announced yesterday that they would step aside to make way for new leadership.

But as the two former co-chief executives leave their positions, shareholders are keen to examine further issues with the business, and will continue to push for shake-ups until the company's strategy is reaffirmed.

Both former co-chief executives will remain at RIM, with Lazaridis becoming vice-chairman of the board, and the chairman of the board's new innovation committee. Meanwhile, Balsillie will simply remain on the board.

Co-chief operating officer Thorsten Heins will now serve as the new chief executive and president of RIM, effective immediately. Barbara Stymiest, a former banking executive, will become the company's new chairwoman.

Compared to HP, which lost two of its chief executives in the space of a year, RIM has suffered at the helm of itself --- arguably through bad leadership and a series of bad decisions that delayed products and services.

Its share price plummeted below book value. RIM's shares have dropped by 75 percent in the past 11 months alone. To throw some light on the numbers: RIM was once worth around $70 billion, while today's market value stands at $8.9 billion.

But amidst takeover talk and that the co-chiefs could leave, under previous rumoured reports, the company's share price recovered each time.

In fact, RIM's share price has jumped nearly 10 times in the past 11 months inclusive over speculation that help might be on hand.

Along with failed product launches, RIM was hit by its largest network outage last year, lasting over a four-day period and knocked out over half of its worldwide subscriber base. The communication failure led by RIM epitomised the state of affairs at the company.


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