Succession Plan: RIM Names New CEO


Amid quickly falling market share and reports of potential buyouts, Ontario-based BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) named Thorsten Heins, former co-COO, as its new president and CEO.

According to RIM, the appointment of Heins was based on the recommendation of former co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. The two former front men, as outlined by the succession plan they submitted to RIM’s board, will step down immediately. Lazaridis will assume the role of vice chair of RIM’s board and chair of the board’s new Innovation Committee, while Balsillie also will remain a member of the board.

"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 in a statement. "With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond. Jim, the board and I all agreed that leader should be Thorsten Heins."

RIM said Heins played a key role in the development of RIM’s mobile product portfolio in his previous roles as COO and senior vice president for the company’s Handheld Business Unit, and has the "right mix of leadership, relevant industry experience and skills" to lead the company forward. Prior to RIM, Heins was the CEO of Siemens, where he oversaw the company’s communication business units and later transitioned into the role of CTO.

RIM has struggled to compete against mobile giants Apple and Google, whose iOS and Android-based smarpthones have been eating away at the company’s enterprise market over the past few months. Heins, however, is confident in RIM’s ability to bounce back.

"As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains," the new CEO said in a statement. "We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result."

In addition to Heins, RIM appointed board member Barbara Stymiest as its new independent board chair, while Prem Watsa, CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings, was also named to the board.