RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie resigns - Macleans.ca

RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie resigns

Company posts its first quarterly loss since 2005


It doesn’t seem like too long ago when people would preach the virtues of their Blackberry smartphones with a straight face. “I love the keyboard,” they’d say. Or maybe: “It just makes more sense as a business phone.”

Times change. Research in Motion released its latest financial numbers yesterday. The news was grim, to say the least: a loss of US$125 million (the company’s first quarterly loss since 2005), revenue that fell far short of expectations and a 21 per cent drop in Blackberry shipments. Over the past year, RIM’s stock price has plunged more than 70 per cent.

Meanwhile, the CBC is reporting that Jim Balsillie, co-founder and former co-CEO of Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion, has stepped down from the company’s board of directors. The Globe and Mail suggests Balsillie’s departure is related to RIM’s disappointing performance revealed in the most recent data:

The company said it brought in $4.2-billion in revenue, which is well below its guidance of at least $4.6-billion, and has said it will discontinue offering guidance – in what is likely to be interpreted as a continuation of tough and unpredictable times…

It has been a bad year for the makers of BlackBerry. In January, Balsillie and his co-founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis stepped down and were replaced by Thorsten Heins, who had been working as Chief Operating Officer for four years at the company and had previously worked at Siemens for two decades. Lazaridis became vice chairman of the board and Balsillie director of the board.

Heins confirmed Balsillie’s departure in a statement and said: “We are undertaking a comprehensive review of strategic opportunities including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM’s assets and maximize value for our stakeholders.” According to an unnamed source quoted by the Globe, “Lots of high level people within RIM were let go today.” (…) “Quite a few. Big shake up.”

Heins hasn’t ruled out selling off the company, but maintains that there is hope. Blackberry phones are making gains in developing countries, and dominate markets like South Africa. With the upcoming release of its new Blackberry 7, RIM is looking to penetrate further into Latin American and Chinese markets.

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