BlackBerry CEOs Step Aside; Experts Still Doubtful

Dennis Faas's picture

In an attempt to calm investors and win back the support of consumers, troubled BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) has announced a major management transformation.

Co-Chief Executive Officers Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have officially resigned their posts and will be replaced by a single man: Thorsten Heins, who has been with the company since 2007.

Speculation about a change of this magnitude has been circulating for months, following an extremely rocky calendar year for the Waterloo, Canada-based manufacturer.

Several of the firm's major projects, most notably the PlayBook, its foray into the tablet computer market, proved to be profit-draining failures. As a result, industry experts have been predicting a major management shakeup in an effort to get the once-promising company back on track.

Balsillie, Lazaridis Remain on the Board

The new CEO, Thorsten Heins, has been serving as RIM's Chief Operating Officer for about five years, since coming over from Siemens, where he worked as Chief Technology Officer for that firm's communications division.

Heins isn't the only top manager at RIM drawing attention this week, however. The company also announced it is bringing in former Royal Bank of Canada Chief Operating Officer Barbara Stymiest to serve as independent board chair, a newly created position. (Source:

It's worth noting that both Balsillie and Lazaridis will remain on RIM's board, suggesting their influence over company affairs, while reduced, will not be totally eliminated.

Experts Doubt Change in Management Will Help

While these moves are undoubtedly intended to stem RIM's year-long sales slide and get the company's products moving again, most experts appear doubtful they will produce the desired results.

"The changes at the top do little to ease the immediate challenges facing the Waterloo company -- and likely come too late to appease investors who abandoned the company's shares over the past year," said Yahoo business analyst, Carmi Levy. (Source:

Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum was equally critical about the company's recent actions.

"Heins has to give people a reason why they need a BlackBerry," Gelblum said. "It's going to be very difficult for him." (Source:

The stock market also failed to react positively to the news. RIM shares plummeted 8.5 per cent (to $15.56) after word of the shakeup reached investors.

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