Late Sunday it was reported that Research in Motion’s co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down. The co-CEOs will be immediately replaced by current COO Thorsten Heins. Director Barbara Stymiest will take over as chairman, Lazaridis will now become vice chairman, and Balsillie will remain a board member without any operational role. Also, Fairfax Financial Holdings CEO Prem Watsa will be joining RIM’s board.
“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” Lazaridis said. “Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.”
RIM’s top execs stated that the two stepped down out of their accord and was not because of outside pressure pertaining to Jaguar Financial Corporation, which speaks for 12 of RIM’s 20 largest shareholders and 8% of its stockholders, calling for a boardroom change. They deem that the change was needed for company’s evolution and the introduction of new technologies that would put RIM back on the map.
“This marks the beginning of a new era for RIM,” Lazaridis said in an interview. “It was a bit of bumpy ride. We’ve done it as best we could. Thorsten is the ideal choice. He has the right skills at the right time.”
And it looks like investors were happy with the change, as RIM’s Frankfurt-listed shares rose more than 4% higher to 13.77 euros while RIM shares in North America were up 67 cents to $17.67 on Monday before markets opened.
But don’t get your hopes too high. Although Heins will now be CEO, he would only be overseeing RIM’s existing strategy, with no drastic changes.
For now, let’s just see if the change in CEO will turn things around for RIM.