Co-CEO’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie released that they are stepping down from their positions today at Research in Motion. Thorsten Heins was unanimously named by the RIM Board of Directors to take over as President and CEO, a succession recommendation by Lazaridis and Balsillie.
Working at RIM since 2007, Heins previously was Senior Vice President for Hardware Engineering at Siemins Communications. Heins has been CEO of Product and Sales at RIM since August 2011.
“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,” Mr. Heins said. “We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim’s continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company’s future.”
Heins sees tremendous potential for RIM in the upcoming years. “We have a strong balance sheet with approximately $1.5 billion in cash at the end of the last quarter and negligible debt. We reported revenue of $5.2 billion in our last quarter, up 24% from the prior quarter, and a 35% year-to-year increase in the BlackBerry subscriber base, which is now over 75 million.”
Lazaridis has become Vice Chair of RIM’s Board as well as the Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee. Lazaridis will continue to work closely with Heins. ““Mike created a whole new way of communicating and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration,” said Heins.
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Lazaridis stated he felt confident of RIM in Heins’ hands. “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. We have been impressed with his operational skills at both RIM and Siemens. I am so confident in RIM’s future that I intend to purchase an additional $50 million of the company’s shares, as permitted, in the open market.”
Balsillie will continue on as a member of the Board. “I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company,” he said. “I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support.”
What does this change mean for RIM? Will RIM now be able to move forward in a profitable direction, or does Heins experience at RIM mean he’s also stuck in the technological past? Making such a drastic move hopefully means only good things for RIM as it is clear something at the company needs to change.