Evidently, RIM has been struggling. Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have now stepped down as the co-CEOs and co-chairmen of the company, owing to mounting pressure from investors. According to reports, Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens executive who rose steadily through RIM's upper management ranks, ever since he joined the Canadian company four years ago, took over as CEO on Saturday. This brings to an end the two decade partnership of Lazaridis and Balsillie in a company, which was counted among the top companies at one point, but is now struggling to keep up with its competitors, Apple and Google. The pair had to face criticism as the BlackBerry devices, known for corporate usage, appeared to lack the pace it needed to keep up with the slew of increasingly popular iPhones and Android phones.

In for a shake-up?

CEOs forced to step down

Looking at how BlackBerry has been shaping up in the recent months, reportedly, investors in the company have been on the lookout for a ‘transformational’ leader who can help it bounce back to its once cutting-edge image and rejuvenate its product line. Heins, as a longtime lieutenant, may be seen as too close to the outgoing management to bring sweeping change. Barbara Stymiest is said to take over as chairman. An independent board member, Stymiest had once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, just like Lazaridis and Balsillie did, in the past. Heins expressed his immediate concerns to sell RIM's current line-up of BlackBerry 7 touchscreen devices, software upgrade for the PlayBook by February, and gear up to bring in BlackBerry 10 phones, later this year.

“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 hastily arranged interview at RIM's Waterloo headquarters, flanked by Balsillie and Heins and with Stymiest joining via telephone. Lazaridis and Balsillie will stay as board members, and Lazaridis will be the vice-chairman and also head a recently formed innovation committee. Lazaridis and Basillie, however, did not disclose any plans outside RIM.


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