Responding to pressure from investors, Research In Motion’s joint chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have resigned.
Former chief operating officer Thorsten Heins takes over the top job at the struggling BlackBerry maker. In a conference call on Monday, Heins said he would focus on a consumer push and a smooth delivery of its products, rather than allowing a churn of innovation to disrupt rollout, as in the past.
“We innovated while we were developing the product and that needs to stop,” Heins said. “We need to innovate, don’t get me wrong, but … when we say a product is defined and a product is a product, execution has to be really, really precise.”
Still, he hinted he would stick to the current strategy, saying the company needed scaling up, not a dramatic transformation.
Lazaridis and Balsillie stressed this is an orderly transition in a long-agreed succession plan, not a retreat in the face of a plummeting share price, shrinking market share and criticism of its products, but takeover talk continues to swirl around RIM .
Heins is a former Siemens executive who has risen steadily through RIM’s upper management ranks since joining the Canadian company in late 2007.
Activist investors have clamoured in recent months for a new, “transformational” leader who could revitalise RIM’s product line and resuscitate its once cutting-edge image, but the market obviously did not see Heins as that and the company’s shares fell over five percent when trading started on Monday.
Lazaridis and Balsillie also gave up their shared role as chairman of RIM’s board. Barbara Stymiest, an independent board member who once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, will take over in that capacity.
The pair had together built Lazaridis’ 1985 start-up into a global business with 15 billion euros in sales last year.
In recent years, they have weathered a storm of criticism as Apple’s iPhone and a slew of devices powered by Google’s Android operating system hit sales of their email-focused BlackBerry.
“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize 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,” Lazaridis said.