Skip to main content

RIM: Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis step down, co-COO Thorsten Heins is the new CEO

RIM: Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis step down, co-COO Thorsten Heins is the new CEO


Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have each stepped down from their co-CEO positions amid growing turmoil in the company and fears it won't be able to rebound itself in time. They are replaced by one of RIM's two COOs, Thorsten Heins. Additionally, another board member, Barbara Stymiest, has replaced them as chairwoman of RIM's board.

Share this story

thorsten heins
thorsten heins

It looks like the shake up everybody has been expecting at RIM has finally come to pass. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have each stepped down from their co-CEO positions amid growing turmoil in the company and fears it won't be able to rebound itself in time. They are replaced by one of RIM's two COOs, Thorsten Heins. Additionally, another board member, Barbara Stymiest, has replaced them as chairwoman of RIM's board. Lazaridis is now the vice chairman on the board and Balsillie also remains on the board, but "without any "operational role," according to Bloomberg. Both will retain significant shares in the company.

Jim Balsillie denied that the move was in response to the intense pressure on the company from stockholders, but that explanation seems unlikely. RIM also said that it wouldn't be changing course from its current strategy, which involved attempting to re-start the company with a brand new operating system later this year. In a press release announcing the change, RIM's new chairwoman praised the co-CEOs that so many have lambasted in recent months, "They created RIM, nurtured it, and in the process not only built an iconic brand, but literally pioneered the smartphone industry."

Heins has been at RIM since 2007, and regarding the company's future strategy, he told the WSJ that "It's going to be continuity, but it's not going to be a standstill." Before working at RIM, Heins worked at Siemens for 20 years. In an interview with Bloomberg, Lazaridis expressed confidence in Heins, saying that:

This marks the beginning of a new era for RIM. [...] It was a bit of bumpy ride. We’ve done it as best we could. Thorsten is the ideal choice. He has the right skills at the right time.

Heins also hinted that RIM would be willing to license the BlackBerry 10 OS if it found wide appeal, apparently confirming earlier rumors that the company was pursuing such a goal. However, it doesn't look like that decision will be happening immediately, if only because BlackBerry 10 is not ready yet. Heins told the New York Times that it would come before the end of the year, adding:

I can’t tell you how much effort, hard work it is to architecture a new platform, build it and bring it to market within 18 months’ time.

That's both encouraging and troubling for BlackBerry fans, who have watched development on the PlayBook drag on and who have not seen a clear story for the development of BlackBerry 10. If RIM has really only been working on this new OS for 18 months (or shorter, if Heins is referring to the actual release date later this yera), then as has been the case with RIM for some time, it's clear that critical decisions were made too late. It will be up to Heins to prove that RIM will be able to succeed despite those setbacks, or else the buyout rumors that have been swirling in recent months could come to pass. Business Insider says that a "person familiar with the matter" claims that RIM has no plans to sell.

In fact, the stay-the-course attitude seems to pervade RIM's announcement and interviews in a way that's similar to the confrontational stance RIM has taken with naysayers in the past. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Heins insisted that there was no need for radical change, saying "Change to what? Change for what?"

Hopefully for RIM, it will be a change to launching a successful, future-oriented smartphone as soon as possible.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 39 minutes ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

The Verge
Mary Beth Griggs39 minutes ago
We’re about an hour away from a space crash.

At 7:14PM ET, a NASA spacecraft is going to smash into an asteroid! Coverage of the collision — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is now live.

Emma RothTwo hours ago
There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.

Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
Emma Roth7:16 PM UTC
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.

External Link
Russell Brandom7:13 PM UTC
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?

Richard Lawler6:54 PM UTC
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.

External Link
Russell Brandom4:29 PM UTC
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.

External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.

External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.

James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.

Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.

External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.

The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.