After months upon months of investor backlash, RIM is making some significant changes. And by “significant,” we mean the co-chief executives (and founders) are out. As of tomorrow, both Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, of Greek origin, will be stepping down from the top posts, enabling “a little-known company insider” to take over, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The resignations come a week before the findings of a management review are released, as the company fights a losing battle against rival smartphone manufacturers.
In place of Lazaridis (above) and Balsillie, Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens executive, has taken over as CEO.
Barbara Stymiest, who has been on the board of RIM since 2007, has been made chairman, a post Balsillie and Lazaridis had also shared. Lazaridis, who founded the company in 1984, will become vice chairman while Balsillie will retain a non-executive seat on the board.
Mr. Lazaridis told ‘Sky News HD’: “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise the need to pass the baton to new leadership.
“Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.”
Mike Lazaridis is a Greek-Canadian businessman. He was born in Istanbul,Turkey to Greek (specifically Pontic) parents. Lazaridis was five years old when his family moved to Canada in 1966, settling in Windsor, Ontario.
At age 12, he won a prize at the Windsor Public Library for reading every science book in the library. In 1979, he enrolled at the University of Waterloo in electrical engineering with an option in computer science. In 1984, Lazaridis responded to a proposal from General Motors to develop a network computer control display system. GM awarded him a $600,000 contract. He dropped out of university that year, just two months before he was scheduled to graduate.
The GM contract, a small government grant, and a $15,000 loan from Lazaridis’s parents enabled Lazaridis, Mike Barnstijn, and Douglas Fregin to launch Research In Motion.