Canadian manufacturer’s chief operating officer Thorsten Heins (right) to take reins, as founder and his co-CEO move to new roles within company
Research In Motion (RIM) co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have both stood down, handing the reins to chief operating officer (COO) Thorsten Heins (right) who will also become RIM president.
Lazaridis and Balsillie had previously shared both the CEO and chairman roles.
RIM founder Lazaridis will become vice-chairman under new chair Barbara Stymiest.
He also becomes chair of the board’s new Innovation Committee.
Balsillie will retain a non-operational role on the board.
The change follows months of pressure from shareholders who argued RIM needed a new management structure to keep up with rivals such as Apple and Google.
Heins became RIM COO in August last year, having joined in 2007 after a stint as chief technology officer at Siemans communications.
Lazaridis said: “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise the need to pass the baton to new leadership.
“With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond.”
Heins praised Lazaridis and Balsillie for taking a long-term approach to RIM’s business by developing a new operating system based on the Playbook’s QNX platform, which is scheduled to be deployed on BlackBerry smartphones later this year.
He said: “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.
“As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains.
“We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result.”
Heins added that RIM was in the process of recruiting a new chief marketing officer to work with the firm’s product and sales teams.