BlackBerry CEO Cashing In Despite Firm's Failures

Dennis Faas's picture

BlackBerry, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company formerly known as Research in Motion, is in big trouble.

However, the firm's chief executive officer, Thorsten Heins -- who BlackBerry tapped to take over as CEO just last year -- is set to make more than $50 million in salary and incentives if he's forced out of the firm's top job.

Heins had served in several executive positions prior to becoming BlackBerry chief executive officer in January 2012. He joined the firm as Senior Vice President of the BlackBerry Handheld Business Unit in 2007 after working for several hardware and software businesses in his native Canada.

New CEO Fails to Guide BlackBerry Back to Top

After settling in at BlackBerry, Heins quickly rose through the company's upper echelons, serving as Chief Operating Officer of Product Engineering and Chief Operating Officer of Product and Sales.

There was much hope when Heins took over the CEO job from Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who had shared the position in previous years. Balsillie and Lazaridis oversaw BlackBerry's decline from an industry heavyweight to its current position at the bottom of the crowded mobile market.

But Heins has been unable to right the sinking ship. BlackBerry shares are currently worth less than $10 -- a major fall from May 2008, when they sold for roughly $140.

"Strategic Alternatives" Could Include Firm's Acquisition

Recently, BlackBerry announced it was exploring "strategic alternatives." One of those new strategies could involve selling the firm. (Source:

It's unknown what a sale would mean for BlackBerry's thousands of (remaining) employees or support for the company's many handheld products.

What we do know is that if the company is sold and Heins is fired as CEO -- and that appears increasingly likely -- he'll cash in, big-time. According to reports, Heins would earn about $56 million in salary, incentives, and equity if he's forced out as CEO. (Source:

Heins' future with BlackBerry will depend on which "strategic alternative" the firm decides is best. Experts suggest an acquisition -- perhaps by a major tech firm like Microsoft or Samsung -- would likely lead to his surprisingly costly exit.

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