Although the formal announcement will only be made later today, Research In Motion’s Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis will step down from their posts as co-chief executives – after being in their positions for nearly 20 years.
The moves come as part of a board and management shuffle which RIM’s investors have been asking for since their BlackBerry Internet Service went offline across the world late last year. The position of CEO will now be filled by Thorsten Heins, currently RIM’s COO of Product Engineering.
“In every successful company that’s developed by founders, there comes a time when it enters a new phase of growth and it’s time for the founders to pass the baton to new management,” Lazaridis told The New York Times.
Heins in turn added that taking over the top spot at RIM will be a challenge, but he will bring a lot of energy to the board. “RIM is a fantastic growth story and it’s not coming to an end. What you will see with me is rigour and flawless execution,” he told The Globe and Mail.
Although Heins is a little-known executive, he has been fundamental to the success of the company. “Heins hasn’t been an especially high-profile executive at RIM. Like Lazaridis, he’s an engineer and product designer, responsible for RIM’s hardware and software. He’s been given credit for helping RIM’s Blackberry become popular in the developing world, one of the main growth areas for the company.”
Lazaridis and Balsillie will remain on the board of directors in a non-operational capacity, while Barbara Stymiest will become the board’s new chairman. Stymiest has been the director of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Charlie Fripp – Acting Online editor