Research in Motion has announced that its co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have stepped down in a company shake-up which follows a year of outages, poor sales and sliding share prices.
"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership," Lazaridis said.
Chief operating officer Thorsten Heins has been appointed president and CEO of the Canadian company. In a statement announcing his appointment, Heins pointed out that the company had grown revenues by 24% in the last quarter and increased the Blackberry subscriber based by 35% year-on-year.
It is no secret that he is taking the reins of a troubled company, however. Last year, the company was dogged by service outages, increased competition and disappointing sales of its PlayBook tablet offering.
RIM suffered its longest service outage in October, which left millions of its users without its most popular offering – the Blackberry Messaging service. The outage was worldwide and took almost a week to resolve.
The company’s smartphone marketshare dropped by 4.4 percent last year, according to research from Gartner, while Google’s Android has seen its share double.
In December, RIM was forced to write down its PlayBook inventory after missing its sales targets. The write down came after reports that RIM had failed to shift up to 700,000 Playbooks in the first half of 2011.
Lazardis will remain with RIM as the vice chairman of the board of directors. "I am so confident in RIM’s future that I intend to purchase an additional $50 million of the company’s shares, as permitted, in the open market," he said in a statement.