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RIM's Mike Lazaridis calls giving up CEO role 'very hard'

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The Record interviewed former RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis last week, covering the entirety of his career from RIM's founding in 1984 to his recent departure.

Mike Lazaridis
Mike Lazaridis

In a varied interview with The Record on Friday, Mike Lazaridis recounts his nearly 30-year career at Research In Motion, leading up to his departure last week (along with co-CEO Jim Balsillie) to make way for newly-installed chief Thorsten Heins. Every indication in the past couple years has been that Lazaridis was reluctant to give up control of the company that he co-founded — he basically confirms that in the piece, saying that "Stepping aside, as a founder, after 27 years, I would be lying if I said that wasn't emotional for me, and for my whole family."

Lazaridis is still involved with RIM in a somewhat nebulously-defined strategic role, and he insists that the company is headed in the right direction — he points to the fact that he just invested an additional $50 million in RIM stock as proof of that. Of Heins, he says "I absolutely know he will take this company to new heights." The company had gotten some flack for failing to look outside its own ranks for the new CEO, but Lazaridis points out that Heins is essentially an insider who came to RIM four years ago and has proven himself in that time. Of course, "proving yourself" in a failing system doesn't necessarily mean much — there's no question that the company's investors are going to be laser-focused on monitoring his performance over the next year as BlackBerry 10 launches.