BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion has been in desperate need of a new lease on life for the last couple of years, and last night, RIM announced a shakeup that it hopes will kick-start the once great smartphone company. After 20 years of service, CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are out, and relative new comer Thorsten Heins is in.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the news yesterday evening, before it was official. Research In Motion confirmed the executive shuffle in a press release late last night.
"The Board of Directors of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion today announced that, acting on the recommendation of its Co-Chief Executive Officers to implement the succession plan they previously submitted to the Board, it has unanimously named Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer," RIM said in a statement. "Mr. Heins was also appointed to RIM's Board."
RIM founder Mike Lazaridis said that it was time to pass the baton and that both he and Balsillie recognized the need for new leadership.
"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership," he said. "Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now."
"I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company," former co-CEO Jim Balsillie added in agreement. "I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support."
Prior to his promotion to CEO and President of the company, Thorsten Heins was Chief Operating Officer at RIM. However, he hasn't been in that role for long, having only been promoted to COO in August of last year. Thorsten joined the company in December of 2007 as Senior Vice President for Hardware Engineering. He remained in that position until his promotion six months ago. For his part, Heins seems to think RIM will be just fine.
"We have a strong balance sheet with approximately $1.5 billion in cash at the end of the last quarter and negligible debt," he said. "We reported revenue of $5.2 billion in our last quarter, up 24 percent from the prior quarter, and a 35 percent year-to-year increase in the BlackBerry subscriber base, which is now over 75 million," Heins continued, before admitted that there has been some growing pains.
"As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains. We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result."
Research In Motion released the following video of Thorsten discussing the future of RIM and where he plans to take the company. Check it out and let us know what you think.