Research In Motion’s Co-Founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis Step Down

The two founders and chief executives of Research in Motion, who made BlackBerry must-have smartphones for a decade, have reportedly stepped down.

BlackBerry maker RIM was worth more than $72 billion a few years ago, but now has a market value of only $9 billion. Photo: Simon Q/Flickr

Mr Lazaridis, the founder of RIM, is to become vice chairman while Mr Balsillie will continue to sit on the board but not have any operational role, reports reports BBC.

“This marks the beginning of a new era for RIM,” Lazaridis told reporters. “It was a bit of a bumpy ride. We’ve done it as best we could.”

The reason for such replacements is investors’ demand for a strategy change as the company struggles to compete with Apple and Google.

Blackberry has suffered major setbacks in recent months. It had a terrible service outage last year and was losing market share to its competitors in the smartphone markets.

Larry Magid, a technology analyst with CNET, said that Mr Lazaridis and Mr Balsillie had to go.

“Research In Motion, which once dominated the smartphone market, has been steadily losing market share both to the iPhone and iPad and the tablet area and the various android devices,” Mr Magid explained.

“I think it was a matter of time before these two made the wise choice to step aside and see if anybody else can do better with the company.”

Mr Lazaridis, when asked about the news, said he understood the necessity to change the company structure.

“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” he said after the announcement at a press conference at RIM’s headquarters in Waterloo, Canada.

He added: “Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.”

Blackberry reveals that Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, whose names have become synonymous with RIM over their two decades leading the company, will turn over operational control of RIM to new CEO Thorsten Heins.

Mr Heins came to RIM in 2007, after he had worked at Siemens Communications. Since August 2011 he has been the chief operating officer, according to the company.

German-born Heins, was chosen as the most appropriate successor. New CEO will be tasked with navigating RIM back to its former competitive form and will have to assuage a host of less-than optimistic shareholders disgruntled by RIM’s slipping performance and a year filled with glitches and setbacks, the Global News says.

“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.”

Mr Lazaridis added: “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.”

In a video BlackBerry had posted to introduce the new chief to the public, CEO saying, “If we continue doing well what we’re doing, I see no problems of us being in the top three players worldwide in the next years in wireless.”

He added: “What we need to get a bit better at is to have a little bit more of an ear towards the consumer. So I want to strengthen this by bringing some really good marketing expertise in.”

“We need to be outright, we need to be constantly communicating with our customers, with the audience, with the public, telling them about BlackBerry.”

The new chairman has been already selected. It is Barbara Stymiest, who has been on the board of RIM since 2007.

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