RIM's Co-CEOs Step Down

Balsillie, Lazaridis insist it had nothing to do with investor pressure
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2012 6:58 AM CST
In this July 12, 2011 photo, co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis, left, and Jim Balsillie appear at the Research in Motion annual meeting in Waterloo, Ontario.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley, File)
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(Newser) – A big shuffle at Research in Motion last night, as Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis—who have served together as co-CEOs for two decades—stepped down, turning over the top position at the struggling company to former chief operating officer Thorsten Heins. Balsillie and Lazaridis also gave up their co-chairmanship, and the board named current board member Barbara Stymiest the new chair. Company co-founder Lazaridis will serve as vice chair, and Balsillie will remain a board member; the two remain directors and significant shareholders, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The BlackBerry maker has struggled for months, losing about three-quarters of its stock value last year, and investors have pushed for change. But Balsillie insists the move "was not a reaction to that." He, Lazaridis, and other board members say the men were not forced out, and that they actually recommended the changes. The timing is right, they say, because two big projects are on track (a PlayBook tablet revamp and a new BlackBerry phone with a new operating system). The company will continue using the comeback strategy devised by Balsillie and Lazaridis, and new CEO Heins says there will be "continuity" but not "a standstill." (Read more RIM stories.)

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