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BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

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BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby oneh2obabe » Jan 22nd, 2012, 8:12 pm

WATERLOO, Ontario - Research In Motion's Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have bowed to investor pressure and resigned as co-CEOs and co-chairmen, handing the top job to an insider with four years at the struggling BlackBerry maker.

Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens executive who has risen steadily through RIM's upper management ranks since joining the Canadian company in late 2007, took over as CEO on Saturday, RIM said on Sunday.

The shift ends the two-decade partnership of Lazaridis and Balsillie atop a once-pioneering company that now struggles against Apple and Google.

Activist investors have clamored in recent months for a "transformational" leader who could revitalize RIM's product line and resuscitate its once cutting-edge image. But Heins, as a longtime lieutenant, got a wary reception.

"I am not sure that an engineer as new CEO really gets to the central issues faced by RIM," said Michael Urlocker, analyst with GMP Securities.

Barbara Stymiest, an independent board member who once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, will take over as chairman, a role that Lazaridis and Balsillie had also shared.

The pair, who together built Lazaridis' 1985 start-up into a global business with $20 billion in sales last year, have weathered a storm of criticism in recent years as Apple's iPhone and the army of devices powered by Google's innovative Android system eclipsed their email-focused BlackBerry.

"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," Lazaridis said in a hastily arranged interview at RIM's Waterloo headquarters, flanked by Balsillie and Heins and with Stymiest joining via telephone.

The executives were keen to paint the shuffle as an orderly transition on a succession plan mapped out at least a year ago, and not a retreat in the face of a plummeting share price, shrinking U.S. market share and criticism of their products.

Both Lazaridis and Balsillie - two of RIM's three largest shareholders with more than 5 percent each - will remain board members, with Lazaridis keeping a particularly active role as vice-chair and head of a newly created innovation committee.

In the group interview announcing the change, Heins said his most immediate concern is to sell RIM's current lineup of BlackBerry 7 touchscreen devices, deliver on a promised software upgrade for its PlayBook tablet computer by February, and rally RIM's troops to launch the next-generation BlackBerry 10 phones later this year.

In the longer term, Heins, previously one of RIM's chief operating officers, said he would push for more rigorous product development and place greater emphasis on executing the company's marketing plan and reaching out to customers.

He said RIM, which suffered a damaging outage of much of its network last year, has embarked on a global search for a chief marketing officer to improve advertising and other communication with consumers. Consumers now account for the majority of RIM's sales even though the BlackBerry built its reputation as a business tool.

For RIM critics, the focus on customers may seem long overdue. The company seemed blindsided by Apple's introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and was also slow to launch a competitor to the iPad. When its PlayBook tablet finally hit the market last spring, it was not equipped with RIM's trademark email service. The reviews were scathing, sales were anemic and the company has been forced to offer steep discounts.

Heins said it would be wrong of RIM to focus on licensing its software or integrated email package, a strategy that many analysts and investors have thought the company might pursue. Even so, the new CEO said the company would certainly be open to discussions of that nature.

With RIM's share price plummeting to eight-year lows, a flurry of speculation has bubbled to the surface in recent months that RIM was up for sale. Lazaridis and Balsillie were seen a major obstacles to any deal.

Neither Lazaridis nor Basillie detailed any future plans outside RIM, with Lazaridis particularly eager to point out his still-active role as a confidante to the new CEO.

Both have other interests outside of RIM - Lazaridis donated hundreds of millions of dollars to set up a theoretical physics institute attached to his alma mater, the University of Waterloo; Balsillie heads a think-tank in international governance and long dreamed of owning a NHL hockey franchise.

Lazaridis said he plans to buy an additional $50 million of RIM shares on the open market.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby twobits » Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:19 pm

removed off topic - Jennylives
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby Glacier » Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:39 pm

Everyone has their style. Oneh2obabe likes to provide information, and, I for one, appreciate that. I hold more shares in RIM than anything else, so I'm quite interested as to which direction RIM stock will go tomorrow.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby TyrianQuill » Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:52 pm

 
Glacier wrote:Everyone has their style. Oneh2obabe likes to provide information, and, I for one, appreciate that. I hold more shares in RIM than anything else, so I'm quite interested as to which direction RIM stock will go tomorrow.

 
good for you, great stock to own, with growth comes change and the only constant is change.
 
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby Homeownertoo » Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:59 pm

Were those shares recent purchases?

This is good news for a company struggling to keep pace on the phone front and to support its well-designed tablet with the software and related functionality needed to compete with a wave of android tabs. Now it needs to deliver on its OS 2 and a timely launch of a QNX phone.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby Captain Awesome » Jan 22nd, 2012, 11:01 pm

I still think it will be sold to another technology company in 6 months. And that the bright days of RIMM are over...
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby oneh2obabe » Jan 22nd, 2012, 11:59 pm

twobits wrote:23850 cut and paste articles without a comment being made. What's up with that? Do you think no one reads the news articles except you?

Glad you know how to use the search feature but if you bothered to check my posts you'd see they aren't all cut 'n paste articles. I was in the middle of working when I got the "breaking news alert" about RIM and thought posters, especially if they have stocks in RIM, would like to know the new developments.

As for comments, I'll wait until I've read all the financial papers in the morning to see if anyone can discern which direction the ex-CEO's are taking. One did mention he was going to purchase an additional $50M in stocks on the open market.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby twobits » Jan 23rd, 2012, 7:51 am

RIM's days are numbered. If there's a dead cat bounce, I'd be bailing out if a recent buyer. Look for a buyout. Market share will continue to erode. What a pathetic fail on the tablet. Apple didn't kill them, open source Android did in becoming the second option. Too little, far too late.
Sad really, for what was once a great Canadian Company. The boys should have stepped down years ago and let some fresh eyes look forward.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby twobits » Jan 23rd, 2012, 8:14 am

Aready down almost 7% and still falling on 20 mill shares. Panic selling? Will be interesting to see if some support forms and where it ends the day.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby Glacier » Jan 23rd, 2012, 9:00 am

Homeownertoo wrote:Were those shares recent purchases?

Yes. All since the new year.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby twobits » Jan 23rd, 2012, 9:42 am

Glacier wrote:
Homeownertoo wrote:Were those shares recent purchases?

Yes. All since the new year.


At least you didn't ride it all the way down. Might want to lower your average and bail on the next sale rumour. Things just don't look good for RIM IMO. What really seals it for me is the new CEO's comments that nothing is really wrong, no real changes are needed, and they just need to be more customer focused. That's not what the street wanted to hear. Praying for a BB10 success is just roulette.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby Homeownertoo » Jan 23rd, 2012, 10:08 am

Hold your shares, Glacier. The price will come back, whatever the final outcome for Rim.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby The Green Barbarian » Jan 23rd, 2012, 12:22 pm

I am still loyal to BB, but only because I like the keyboard. In terms of performance of the operating system, battery life, available apps etc, it is just plain awful. Their R&D Department must have been asleep at the wheel for the past 5 years. I have the Torch product now, which I like, but when I got it last summer it was hopelessly out of date, even though it was the "cutting edge" of Blackberry technology. They need to revamp the product big time. When they finally lose me as a customer, then for sure turn out the lights, as I am going to go down fighting before I ever switch to a full touch-screen for typing/texting/emailing, I just hate it with a passion, and I refuse to use Apple products out of principle (too expensive and they refuse to work with anyone else), and their user base are as brain-washed and crazy as Green Party voters.

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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby twobits » Jan 23rd, 2012, 2:06 pm

Homeownertoo wrote:Hold your shares, Glacier. The price will come back, whatever the final outcome for Rim.


Well there ya go Glacier, two views from two different people. Reality though is neither of us can be sure who will be right. May the financial gods smile upon you always!

ETA-Ouch, closed down $1.48 to $15.52 on volume of over 50 million shares.......2 1/2 times the three month moving average. Stil going down in after market trading. Still say average down and wait for the kitty bounce.
Last edited by twobits on Jan 23rd, 2012, 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BlackBerry maker CEOs step down as pressure mounts

Postby twobits » Jan 23rd, 2012, 2:14 pm

The Green Barbarian wrote: When they finally lose me as a customer, then for sure turn out the lights, as I am going to go down fighting


While I cannot extrapolate this into any kind of universal trend, my late teens and twenty something kids and all their peer groups are dumping their BB's for other makes. It seems it's almost uncool to own a BB for them now. Youngest daughter had her battery on her Curve pack it in after only 13 months. Rather than just replace the battery she just got a different phone cause the software was glitching all the time requiring a connection to a PC and software reboot. I'm with ya on Apple products on principle as well.
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