The two men who founded and led Research in Motion are no longer its co-CEOs -- Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have been replaced by Thorsten Heins. This move comes as the maker of BlackBerry smartphones is increasingly struggling to stay competitive.
Lazaridis has become Vice Chair of RIM’s Board of Directors, and head of a new Innovation Committee. He will work closely with Heins to offer strategic counsel. Balsillie will be a member of the board.
Lazaridis said, “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now."
Heins was previously the head of RIM's Product Engineering department. Before joining the company in 2007, he held several positions in the wireless market including the Chief Technology Officer of Siemens' Communications Division. He holds a master's degree in Science and Physics from the University of Hannover in Germany.
"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," said Lazaridis said, "We have been impressed with his operational skills at both RIM and Siemens."
Facing Tough Times
RIM was once the biggest smartphone maker in N. America, but in the last year has lost most of its stake in the smartphone market to Android and iOS.
Its best hope for turning things around is BlackBerry 10, a new operating system for the company's smartphones and tablets. This was originally scheduled to be released this quarter, but has been pushed back to the second half of this year.
The new CEO said, "Mike and Jim took a bold step 18 months ago when RIM purchased QNX to shepherd the transformation of the BlackBerry platform for the next decade. We are more confident than ever that was the right path."
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