According to recent reports, the co-CEOs of BlackBerry creator Research in Motion, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, are stepping down from positions they've held for more than two decades. COO Thorsten Heins will now take over RIM.
“Jim and I approached the board and we told them that the time is now,” Lazaridis said, according to a report by the Globe & Mail. According to the report, the announcement came Sunday night at the Canadian company's Waterloo headquarters.
Balsillie and Laziridis will not leave the company entirely, but will remain on RIM's board and Lazaridis "is taking on the new title of vice chair of RIM’s board and chair of the board’s new innovation committee," the Globe report adds.
Lazaridis said he anticipates spending his days with his children. “Obviously we’re looking forward to having more free time,” he told reporters.
The BlackBerry maker's new CEO helms a technology firm facing one of its most challenging moments. Market share has shrunk, the company's stock is under half of what it was once worth, and it's struggling to gain attention from forward-thinking companies such as Apple and Samsung.
Thorsten Heins, once the COO, is confident he'll steer RIM in the right direction. "What you will see with me is rigour and flawless execution," he said.
Heins pointed out RIM isn't staying still as critics accuse them of falling too far behind their rivals. "We didn’t stand still in the last 18 months, we did our homework. And I think we will complete our homework soon,” he told reporters.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Heins was defensive about RIM's position in the mobile market. RIM is more diverse than their BlackBerry devices, he said. "It's not just smartphones. We've got a data network, we've got services. In a lot of countries around the world, we're the number one smartphone maker. In the U.S., yes there's a challenge."
Canadian business stalwart RIM endured a year to forget: it slashed its workforce by 11 percent as investors grumbled about a tumbling stock and disappointing quarters. Embarrassing service interruptions marred the company's public image, and the Economist adds RIM "has also made a lacklustre start in tablets, shipping 500,000 of its PlayBooks in the first quarter of its financial year."