RIM drops co-CEOs

James "Jim" Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the two men at the head of Research In Motion for two decades, are set to step down from their co-CEO positions within the next 24 hours, according to multiple reports.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

update Research In Motion (RIM) confirmed this afternoon that James "Jim" Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the two men who have been at the head of the the company for two decades, are stepping down from their positions as co-CEOs to make way for new talent.

RIM said in a statement that it would enact the succession plan developed by Balsillie and Lazaridis that would see the two retain positions on the company's board, as Thorsten Heins ascends the position of president of the board and chief executive officer of the beleaguered smartphone maker.

Heins joined RIM from Nokia Siemens Networks in 2007, and became chief operating officer for Product and Sales in August 2011. The new CEO said he believes that his company has "tremendous potential".

Lazaridis has become the vice chair of the board, and chair of the company's new executive-level Innovation Committee. Jim Balsillie remains a director on the company board, as well as a "significant shareholder", in his own words.

Balsillie said that it is "the right time" to pass the baton of leadership, and added his best wishes to Heins and the new board appointees, in whom he has "great faith".

Meanwhile, Lazaridis is so confident in the new leadership structure that he outed his plans to buy another US$50 million of shares in RIM on the open market.

RIM has sagged under tough times of late, struggling in its battle for relevance in the increasingly tough smartphone marketplace.

Paired with the outages of RIM's most popular services, RIM has seen its results, share price and brand confidence plummet in the last 12 months.

Heins acknowledged RIM's problems, but believes that the company has great growth potential.

"As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains. 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," Heins said.

Updated at 2.33pm, 23 January 2012: removed speculation around the appointment of Heins after the plan was confirmed with RIM. Added comments from all parties.

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