Management shakeup at RIM

BlackBerry maker – Research In Motion (RIM) – has named Thorsten Heins as President and CEO of the company.

Mike Lazaridis remains Vice Chair of the Board while Jim Balsillie takes on a Director role at the company. This is effective immediately.

Outgoing Co-chairs and Co-CEOs Jim Basillie and Mike Lazaridis

Outgoing Co-chairs and Co-CEOs Jim Basillie and Mike Lazaridis

Heins was also appointed to RIM’s Board. He joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in December 2007 as Senior Vice President for Hardware Engineering and became Chief Operating Officer for Product and Sales in August 2011.

I believe Heins does not have time on his side, given BlackBerry’s rapid loss of market share to rival Android devices and Apple iOS products.

“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.” – Thorsten Heins, new President and CEO of RIM.RIM’s market share of smartphones in the US declined from a market leading 44% in 2009 to 10% in 2011, according to market researcher NPD Group.

BlackBerry has been growing outside of America but it is facing similar challenges from its competitors in those markets as well.

Coming from within RIM instead of outside, the natural question will be whether Heins will be doling out “more of the same” at RIM.

I’m not sure having been in RIM since 2007 is necessarily something that will be seen as positive for Heins.

Investors will be keen to know if he had his own ideas but could not act on them because he was not the CEO.

Heins will have a very short time to show how different he is from his predecessors, that he has his own vision and roadmap to bring RIM back to its previous success.

Thorsten Heins, new President and CEO at RIM

Thorsten Heins, new President and CEO at RIM

I’m hoping his “I don’t think that there is a drastic change needed” spiel during his first press conference as CEO is merely paying due respect to his predecessors.

The succession plan was submitted by the two Co-Chairs and co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. RIM’s Board of Directors acted on their recommendations after conducting its own own due diligence.

Investors had forced RIM to consider a change in company leadership in 2011 and was stalled with the company’s promise to study the matter.

RIM promised a resolution in January 2012 and I’ve been wondering if they were going to make the move, after their closed-door meeting in mid December.

Mike Lazaridis, who co-founded RIM with Doug Fregin in 1984, has become Vice Chair of RIM’s Board and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee.

As Vice Chair, he will work closely with Mr. Heins to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide.

Barbara Stymiest, who formerly served as a member of Royal Bank of Canada’s Group Executive and has been a member of RIM’s Board since 2007, has been named the independent Board Chair.

John Richardson, formerly Lead Director, will remain on the Board.

Prem Watsa, Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings, also was named to the Board, expanding it to 11 members.

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One Response to “Management shakeup at RIM”

  1. […] his appointment last year, Heins has tried to turn around the company, axing 30% of its workforce to try save $1 […]

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