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Here’s what we really think about Vic Alboini of Jaguar Financial and his crusade for change at RIM and the BlackBerry business

Vic Alboini of Jaguar capital (left) and CrackBerry Kevin
By Kevin Michaluk on 1 Aug 2012 12:59 pm EDT
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Vic Alboini (left) and CrackBerry Kevin at the Research In Motion AGM

Note: This piece is being posted under my name (Kevin), but is a joint piece written by myself and Chris Umiastowski. To keep things simple, and since Chris and I agree on pretty much every major aspect of this piece, the wording "we" is used throughout instead of "I".

Warning: This post is obviously longer than our usual post here at CrackBerry, but for good reason. We didn't want to skimp on details. 

Who exactly is Vic Alboini and Jaguar Financial 

Last year a relatively unknown merchant bank named Jaguar Financial made a small investment in RIM shares (we'd normally put a link to the Jaguar website in here, but it's flagged for malware so we linked to a Google search instead).

The company's Chairman and CEO, Vic Alboini, then became fairly well known in the media as an activist shareholder. Jaguar Financial has a market cap of just over $3 million as of this writing. To put this in perspective, RIM's market value is about 1100x bigger than Jaguar. So it stands to reason that, despite never disclosing the size of his position in RIM, Alboini is a very tiny shareholder. Despite this, Alboini commands a huge influence with the media as they believe he and his views represent a significant amount of shareholders. The media seems to love going to him for quotes.

We're writing this article to help readers understand who he is, what he's asking for, and to have an honest discussion of whether he's helping or hurting RIM.

Vic Alboini is a former securities lawyer and held the position of Partner at well-known Bay Street firm McCarthy Tetrault. He has published several books on securities law and practice. He now heads up Jaguar Financial (a merchant bank) and Northern Securities (an investment dealer).

RIM is not the first company Alboini has gone after as an activist shareholder. But it is certainly the biggest. Jaguar Financial has also been penalized by security regulators on several occasions, including as recently as this past Monday. While a discussion of these fines are beyond the scope of this article, they need to be mentioned because they may be part of the reason that RIM refuses to give Alboini the time of day.

It was only at this year's AGM in Waterloo when we saw Vic Alboini in action up close and in person. Our initial impression? He seemed to be on the hunt for media exposure. And we don't like the way he comes across in the media (which we'll explain) and many of his quotes could be harming what is left of RIM's brand.

The state of RIM's relationship with Vic Alboini

Jaguar's size puts them pretty much in the camp of a large retail investor rather than in the same league as institutional investors (mutual and pension funds). There is clearly no love between the two sides.  Research In Motion gave us a statement that explains its feelings toward Alboini:

"Mr. Alboini is entitled to his opinions and RIM has reviewed his proposals, but does not believe they have been advanced in the best interests of RIM or its stakeholders. While he has successfully attracted media attention, Mr. Alboini has no technology experience and, despite his claims to represent other shareholders, has provided virtually no transparency into either his alliances or his motives." 

Even though RIM isn't talking to Alboini, on the surface it seems he's had many of his demands met. Vic has been outspoken in asking for an independent and revamped board of directors, a strategic review, and a replacement of Jim and Mike as Co-CEOs. All three of those things have happened, or are in the process of happening. However, as you'll discover in the rest of this article, what Vic really wants is sincere exploration of the sale of RIM (and a board that has the balls to implement such an M&A oriented strategic review).

CrackBerry Kevin's observations of Vic Alboini at the AGM 

Vic Alboini
The show begins... no parking lots for this guy.

Watching Vic Alboini in action at RIM's AGM, we felt as if we were witnessing an actor playing a role in a movie, and Vic does look and talk the part of a high falutin Wall Street character. His grand entrance attracted attention as his driver pulled the black Towncar up right beside all of the media cameras. Everyone else parked in the designated lot. He built up anticipation by standing in the crowd of cameras with his BlackBerry Bold 9900 to his ear, supposedly finishing up an important call. Remember the film crews were looking for shareholders to interview, and Vic is interview gold. He gave several interviews before heading into the AGM.

Vic Alboini
Making the media wait makes for a great photo op

Within the AGM, it seemed unusual for Vic to make a statement at the start of the meeting. Normally shareholders speak during the Q&A session. Why? Perhaps because the media was allowed into the AGM only for the first 20 minutes to get their photo ops. With the Q&A coming later in the session, the cameras would not be around to see Vic make his statement or ask his questions.

Vic Alboini
No waiting for Q&A, Alboini made his statement early while the media was in the room

When he did have the microphone and the attention of RIM's board and executives, Vic came across as very controlled and statesman-like. The contrast in his delivery between how he speaks to the media and how he spoke to RIM within the AGM was night and day. He is much more vociferous to the media. 

He also left the meeting early to do an interview with BNN (right before Kevin was on). I noticed he stated a key fact wrong. This was regarding the percentage of shares withheld for director nomination. The highest percentage of votes withheld for any director was 30.25%. During his BNN interview, Vic stated that it was 35%. In another interview we observed him giving to the media following, that number jumped to 40%.

Vic Alboini
Vic left the AGM early to do an interview with BNN

Following this interview, Vic returned to the area outside the AGM and gave interviews until every media outlet had left. Following him around, his actions reeked of self promotion. He delivered his words under the guise of shareholder interests. But our gut told us there was (also) another agenda at play here. If change at RIM is truly what Vic is after, his performance at the AGM did not feel like the most constructive path. 

CrackBerry Kevin's 80 minute long interview with Vic Alboini 

CrackBerry got on the phone with Alboini for a full hour and 20 minutes.

We grilled him about everything that seemed important. At the end of the interview, our view had changed somewhat. We still don't like the way Alboini seems to sneak incomplete stories into the media. But we also had a chance to speak to him in great detail.

So here's the quick CrackBerry take:

Many of Alboini's points, when explained in full detail, are solid. Unfortunately, we don't think his strategy of addressing the media is helpful. Alboini has a track record for feeding the media just enough of an interesting line to publish, but not enough to represent or portray a complete picture. The bottom line is that, while we don't like the approach Jaguar takes, their criticisms and ideas are useful. RIM could potentially mitigate damning media stories by engaging Jaguar in direct conversation.

There is no question Vic Alboini's media strategy is damaging to shareholders, in our view. We asked Alboini about this in our interview and he said, "I can't be held responsible for [the media's] accuracy"

We respectfully call for a higher standard. In a series of fairly short interviews with dozens of media agencies, we don't think he's doing enough to make sure his story is accurately represented. Letting the media misunderstand you over and over is nearly as bad as lying to them in the first place. 

The biggest error the media is propagating is about Alboini's control over RIM stock.. It has been reported over and over that Jaguar represents a group of shareholders who collectively hold 8% of the stock. He's generally not quoted as saying this. Instead, the media interprets what he says, publishes something that isn't quite right, and every other agency just reiterates the same crap.

For example, here is how Jaguar Financial explains its situation. This comes from an October 2011 press release:

"As previously announced Jaguar has the support of certain institutional shareholders representing approximately 8% of the issued shares of RIM. None of the supportive shareholders have any agreement with any of the other supportive shareholders including Jaguar pertaining to any matter including the purchase, sale, ownership or voting of RIM shares."

Notice that the first sentence outlines the important 8% metric, while the second sentence factually and correctly identifies the fact that no formal agreements are in place between any shareholders in Jaguar's supportive group. 

Here's how Vic Alboini described things to us: 

"It's important for you to realize we don't represent anybody. We've never said we represented any other shareholders. We've said there are supportive shareholders. What's important is that the people that we talk to we talk to on general terms on corporate governance and a strategic review."

That seems pretty clear to us. Alboini has spoken to many shareholders who agree, in principle, with many of the changes that he's proposing RIM make. And most of these changes don't necessarily involve a sale of the company. The changes he's pushing for seem much more governance related, and quite reasonable.

But that doesn't make for interesting news, we suppose. So most media stories neglect to explain that Jaguar's "support" is completely informal. As a former securities lawyer, we expect Alboini to understand that most journalists won't think to ask about this important caveat. And he's not doing enough to set the record straight.

One more clear example: Before we move onto the meat of our interview with Alboini, here's one more example of how irritated we are by his use of the media to propagate a negative message that can harm shareholders. During the AGM we overheard him mention to at least two separate media representatives that Thorsten Heins sold 1200 shares of RIM on July 3rd. He then added the tag question, "Why would a CEO that believes in his company do that? Why would he sell shares?"

Here's the problem with this: Executives get partially paid in stock. As the stock vests, it counts as income. So most companies setup automatic plans whereby enough stock is sold to pay the taxes immediately as stock grants vest. In Thorsten's case he had a chunk of 2500 shares vest, and RIM automatically sold 1181 of those shares to cover taxes.

Alboini later clarified with us that he doesn't care why the shares are being sold - just that the CEO shouldn't be selling stock. Vic, if you really feel this way then write an open letter about it or express your views in a fair and proper manner.  But don't mislead the media into thinking the CEO is dumping shares. 

What did Vic Alboini actually say in our interview

To separate fact from fiction, and to set a higher standard for accurate reporting, we'd like to share with our readers, in details, the key points from our lengthy discussion with Alboini.

He agrees RIM needs to bring BlackBerry 10 to market. 

"Certainly you don't want to give up on BB10 given the powerful QNX software. There's no question you want to give that a chance."

They need to aggressively explore transaction alternatives NOW, and board chair Barbara Stymiest does not have the necessary skills to do manage a M&A strategic review. Alboini couldn't have made these points more clear, and he left no room to misinterpret his view. He sees RIM as being in a desperate situation. While he wants the company to give it a go with the launch of BlackBerry 10, he sides with many of the bears who believe it won't be enough to save the company. 

"But we don't see [BlackBerry 10] being the salvation for RIM. The problem is that if you wait until you get the results from the emergence of the BB10 phones, you could very well have a $3 stock price. At that point if you're starting to look at strategic options you're talking about selling the company or parts of the company that might give you the $3, maybe $4 maybe $5 if you're really lucky. So our concern is that you've got to get underway now in examining the options. It doesn't mean you have to necessarily implement any particular option but you've got to know what the landscape is now."

We pressed to understand the difference between what Alboini wants versus what RIM has already said they are doing. After all, RIM has hired JP Morgan and RBC to help it review strategic alternatives. However, Alboini points out that RIM's focus (as evidenced by the company's own AGM slides) is on partnerships, joint ventures and licensing.

This, in his view, means that RIM is not seriously considering a sale of any or all assets. And he sees this as a huge mistake.

"I don't have any confidence whatsoever that they are seriously pursuing the sale of RIM on a standalone basis, the breakup of RIM and the sale of any parts or any of the businesses."
We respectfully disagree with Alboini here. First you need to decide if you have a business worth saving. If yes, then you don't look for buyers. But to do a proper analysis of the potential of RIM's business, you need a board with deep technology strength, which leads us to our next topic. 

He strongly believes they should revamp the entire board of directors. Honestly, this one is impossible to argue with. Alboini said to us, "We're being critical. But we're being critical for a purpose. And that's to get a sense of reality into a board that's way too cozy way too clubby, with zero experience in the tech industry. That's what we're faced with, which is a disaster."

Alboini is not enthused with the fact that RIM's board still consists of many of the same names who sat at the table during the company's downfall since the launch of the iPhone.

"The reality is that [Stymiest] has been there for five years. So have David Kerr, Roger Matin and I think John Wetmore. All of these directors have been there during the missed opportunities, the huge miss on the strategic vision on the late Steve Jobs. That missed opportunity was missed by the board and the management team. And we still have the same board. And so we have asked that the board be revamped and add tech experience that it doesn't have right now."

Alboini speaks highly of one new director, Timmothy Dattels. But he sees the "bolting in" of this new member as a huge mistake versus replacing an existing member.

"We're very happy Tim Dattels joined the board. We think he's going to be an independent thinker. We think he's' got excellent transaction experience. Hhe's got a great career pedigree. And that's the kind of director that should be brought to the table. But what a mistake to add Tim Dattels to the board and not replace one of the wrongdoing directors. What a huge mistake. So you're basically saying, yeah, we'll revamp the board but our definition of revamp is not to replace but to bolt on to a poor board."

RIM acknowledges the need to add more technology bench strength to its board. But there are already 10 "asses in chairs" around the table, and we agree with Alboini that it's long past the time when certain board members should vanish from their chairs.

Happy about the restructuring and hardware consolidation strategy. When asked what he's satisfied with at RIM, Alboini pointed to the layoffs as a necessary step he was pleased to see the company take. He also appreciated RIM's recognition of the need to consolidate its hardware portfolio to far fewer models. Again, these are both points we fully agree with.

Alboini didn't seem to know much about the inner changes at RIM, given his focus on board- level changes. Alboini has been critical of RIM's installation of Thorsten Heins as CEO in the past. Here' s what he said to us during our interview:

"We've called all along for a transformational leader. What we think we have is a transitional leader. We don't think Thorsten Heins is CEO material and we don't think he's going to last."

We respectfully disagree. In fact, since Thorsten has been appointed as the leader of BlackBerry nation, he's implemented a significant management shakeup, cut thousands of jobs, and hired three new C- level officers (marketing, operations and legal). He's re-aligned more company resources towards the launch of BlackBerry 10, and made the decision to focus only on areas where RIM can add value, and partner in other areas (such as consumer apps).

RIM's problems are not about vision right now. They're about execution and focus. Thorsten grabs us as being absolutely the right guy for this job. Remember, Tim Cook of Apple is not a visionary leader like Steve Jobs was. Yet Apple seems rock solid since the unfortunate passing of Jobs. That all said, in our interviews with Heins to date it's apparent to us that he does have a clear vision for mobile computing and the role of BlackBerry within it.

The CrackBerry Message to Alboini

We like many of your ideas. We really do. But you have to remember that the media doesn't understand the details. They don't always understand just how small you are. They don't understand that you don't really control any meaningful chunk of stock. They take your past statements, misunderstand them, and regurgitate them in poor form, leading uninformed readers (including potential and current BlackBerry customers) to assume you're a large, powerful activist shareholder. This is harmful to RIM and we think it is your responsibility to make sure the media understands who you are and what you represent.

Agreeing with many of your ideas is very different from supporting your actions. From where we sit, your use of the media puts you squarely outside of the interests of shareholders. 

The CrackBerry Message to RIM's Board of Directors

It's time to pick up your game. Many of you have been sitting on the RIM board for far too long, and have almost nothing of value to add given where the company is positioned today. RIM needs a board who understands technology and the global wireless communications market. If you love the company, it's time to leave them and make room for better qualified directors. 

The CrackBerry Message to the media

There is a shortage of journalists who are willing to check and understand facts before writing stories that distort and perpetuate wrong information. It's time to hold yourself to a higher standard. Instead of regurgitating things that you aren't even sure you understand, stop and ask. There are plenty of people willing to help. 

Message to CrackBerry Nation

We really hope following this post that Vic Alboini's name appears less in the media. But if that's not the case, we hope his comments are more constructive and transparent. If you see articles popping up on the web that don't meet this criteria, send the journalist a link to this article. And feel free to send Jaguar a note letting you know that if Vic is going to keep up with his comments to the media, you expect a higher standard. Use info@JaguarFinancial.ca to let them know how you feel. 

Reader comments

Here’s what we really think about Vic Alboini of Jaguar Financial and his crusade for change at RIM and the BlackBerry business

142 Comments

I wouldn't be surprised if this guy has been appointed by other external groups (aka the competition) just to try to infiltrate, gather information that can be used to DIVIDE & CONQUER.

If a sale does eventually happen, he would have key inside info before many others and I'm just saying... maybe that's his real agenda . to provide this information to other external groups have him on their payroll.

He's talkin about Kevin and his long hair with his hand next to the CrackBerry watermark in the first photo with AlboNo...kinda funny, kinda not

Dammit! No! Why can't I edit my first comment?! Stupid browser meesing up after I clicked EDIT.

Okay so, great article, nicely done, although I can't believe I just spent valued lunch hour time reading about that guy; still not a fan.

Way to be pathetic enough to try to be first!!

This is a great read and a fairly in depth article about a little man trying to have a big voice.. doesn't always work.

I'm sorry what? I saw the article come up, thought I'd have more to say about it since I've been waiting for this one for a while so that's why I left a placeholder comment. Most of what I wanted to say/add was covered in the story. No sure why I can't edit it now though.

Not sure how that makes me pathetic: could you please elaborate?

Your drive to be the first to comment on this article to the point where you would create a placeholder is why you were called pathetic. The obsession with first is the pathetic part.

What makes it hilarious is that you are now unable to edit your post and it really makes the pathetic part stand out.

My favorite part is that after all that your next comment after your failed first comment is just a sentence or two that doesn't really say anything except nicely done. Your missing the first comment is hardly a tragedy for anyone.

Remember when you got your first murst? If not too bad. If you do and this us your reaction, too bad. Either way, you and your friend are both pathetic for raining on someone's personal parade. Period. Point. Blank.

usually there is a thing that people call "First" or want to be the first to respond. So instead of reading the entire article then posting, you wanted to claim to be first with a "Placeholder" When its not like the comments get locked after x amount of time.

The whole infatuation for being "first" has nothing to do with the site, but more on the hey look i'm first. Especially when you comment before reading to stake your claim to be the first commentor

I think you are wrong.
"The whole infatuation for being "first" has nothing to do with the site, but more on the hey look i'm first"
I think it does have something to do with this site, and any site for that matter. I think the whole point of being first is, so that the individual that gets there comment in "first", or at least in the top of the list on the first page. That way, their comment doesn't get lost in the sea of comments/replies and they feel good knowing someone heard their voice(read their comment).
It is unfortunate that the first and even second, third and so on....have been turned out to be "placeholders" for nonsense like murst, suckit, turd and what tha f* ever else people come up with.
Berry_the_Black...aint done nothin wrong. I'm sure his intention was to be positive and/or constructive in his comment.
...but hey, what ever...have fun reading(and I know you do, otherwise you wouldn't be at the end of this comment right now)
Oh ya...f*ck Albondumba**.

Wow, that was a whole lot of unnecessary postage; I probably shouldn't have come back to check. It's actually a little sad to think that people got so worked up over nothing.

Relax boys, it's just the internet; arguing about it is "pathetic" but thanks to whomever stuck out for me :)

waw, this whole string of comments on "first" ... is pathetic ... drop it, who the hell cares if hes first or not... also, your use of the phrase "i think" takes away all legitimacy of your post because its screaming opinionated

That is a SOLID article Chris/Kevin.. I think this is one of the best articles written on CrackBerry in a while. And the reason I say that is because it helps everyone understand the situation, clarifies what the average media is unabel to do, and most importantly it is relevant!

Fantastic!

YEY I've been waiting for this article for a while. No wonder it took so long. You wrote a book on him

They guy knows what he's talking about. He's just a misleading person. Very misleading. In his own mind he's right. People can be defective.

+1... a tiny dick that needs 100's of media cameras to find.

I think we should be more sympathetic to Albioni... he has clearly been deprived of attention as a child and is trying to make up for it in his adult life by pretending to be a big shot.

Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean's alter ego) is a graduate electrical engineer. Mr. Bean probably understands more about mobile phones than does Mr. Noisy.

Thanks Kevin and Chris for this, sure it's long work - and it took long minutes for me to read & understand, in deep - and it's a real journalism work.

Now, I'm no journalist and ... (sorry)
I'm not reserved/balanced : #ShootTheMangyFelineOut.

So you're basically saying that you agree with what he says, but you think he should bottle feed the media so they aren't so mean and hurtful to RIM...without really giving RIM credit for putting themselves in this disastrous position. I'm not saying that he's not deliberately playing on the media's rush to publish and fascination with sensationalism, but for the most part (as you freely admit), he's right.

Or maybe you're just an idiot that missed my point. It doesn't necessarily matter who this guy is, other than someone who's taken an interest in RIM and is being loud. He's making a lot of valid points (which Crackberry confirmed) and all of these bombs this "loose canon" is dropping has RIM written all over the shell casings. They're providing all of the ammunition for someone like this, and all he's really doing is pointing out the hard facts. Maybe this will help light more of a fire under RIM's feet, because between the board, delays and continued vagueness, they're still making a lot of mistakes.

Nope. You're just stupid and unintelligent. You don't think you are, but the rubber helmet you wear gives it away.

The guy provides tidbits of info to the press. When they misreport what he intentionally feeds and he doesn't correct them when they (the media) make statements that are untrue. They don't fact check what this earth worm says. This is what YOU support? Paraphrase: he's not responsible what the media reports.

If he wants to stand on a soap box he should realize he has the fiduciary duty to rep the company as an owner and be a good ambassador.

The man is a goat.

I agree. But I'm also not happy with RIM at the moment so a little BS thrown their way doesn't totally bother me. And I really like your use of the word "fiduciary". (I had to look it up) ;)

Agreed. They don't defend themselves well. We should be seeing someone from RIM every week out there in the media.

Yep, it's pretty obvious by what you said that you didn't understand the core points of the article. There's an old saying..

"For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not understand - no explanation is possible."

Kudos for looking past your own knee-jerk tendency to just label Mr. Alboini a no-good-something-or-other and providing some real insight into the situation. And this coming from two guys that never went to journalism school.

Okay. Based on the logic of this man, I can start telling everyone that I have the support of 75% of the shareholders because they agree with my opinions. Damn I should have gotten a car service to drop me off in front of the AGM. I would have had both my bb and pb going.

What a self serving douche.

JMO.

Lol. I was wondering how long it would take to get a comment like this. You are absolutely correct. Hopefully we see Vic take change his tactics from here on out. If not, well, Jaguar Financial is a public company, that's done very poorly over the past 18 months, and buying in low to seek change in managemet to raise its value would be the thing to do.

Let's all pool our cash just to get Vic ousted!! I like it.

On a side note, can I get a copy of the original with all of the "f bombs" and other choice words for Vic?

His company shares went up by 28.57% today to close just under 5 cents (if I'm reading it right). Wow, things are looking good!

I enjoyed this article and I think you wrote a very well considered, balanced article on the man.

I never expect a trader to speak out side their own interest and I believe that Mr. Alboni does what he thinks is in his own best interests, it's not necessary that we agree with him about what he does. He has skin in the game so to speak and while it might not be as big as portrayed, he stands with his money where his mouth is.

The fact that he believes that RIM's value might be in selling off all or parts won't play well in this venue can be expected and respected.

You should be a little careful what you say to Mr Alboini.

Mr Alboini is also CEO at Northern Securities Inc who have a "sell" rating against RIM. Nothing wrong with that of course, but when compared with his public behaviour it starts to smell.

I've always found it odd that he should be so visibly vocal about RIM if he's an investor. After all the negative publicity can't possible help any holdings he may have in RIM.

And that's the real clue to Mr Alboini's strategy. His performance is a charade designed to mask his real intent.

My guess is he holds very few RIM shares, and he or his agents are busy shorting the stock. It's the only scenario in which his frankly crazy behaviour makes any sense. A recent article (which unfortunately I neglected to bookmark) shed light on his motivations.

Mr Alboini is a wolf in sheeps clothing when it comes to RIM. His opinion isn't worth a cent and he uses his shareholding to generate ever more negative publicity about RIM. I fear you were being BS'd if you bothered to interview the guy.

I applaud Chris and Kevin in setting the record straight. Journalism nowadays is more focused on selling the story instead of integrity and getting facts straight.

Guys a clown trying to push his own agenda. Not saying his opinions about key things are wrong, he is just clownish on how he deals with it.

I don't know much about this guy and Kevin speculates that he is in it for attention. But come on, that is just speculation, not journalism.

The stock has lost around 90% of its value in the time that this guy was calling for changes. Maybe he had a point? More speculation on my part.

Respectfully, I disagree lawguyman. There are different kinds of speculation, some good, some irresponsible. At times a journalist has to make his best logical inferences from available information in the face of contradictory behaviour. If Alboini does in fact own a large long position in RIM, why would he make a steady series of announcements stressing all the flaws in RIM's strategy. In fact, his chief analyst for RIM at Northern has long had a Sell recommendation, calling for a $7 share price when the stock was still in the teens. There is an inevitable set of inferences to be drawn there!

As a small player in a boutique investment shop, Alboini's financial interests as well as his duty to investors under these circumstances would be to take a short position. Instead he gives the impression he's a long-suffering holder of a company that does nothing but make mistakes. So it becomes a legitimate question to ask what he's really after, and what he's really getting out of this whole exercise. He is definitely getting a lot of publicity, even while his so-called investment is getting pounded, so it seems extremely likely that his game from the get-go has been the publicity.

Hes probably trying to beat the stock down to its lowest level possible so he can buy more at a better value before bb10 launches.

Great artical. However, Vic is being smart. If Rim wont listen to him and do what he wants them to do. Which they shouldnt. He will paint them negative in the media so someone will do it for them. Like in a buy out for example. On the other hand Rim has helped this guy push his negative image of Rim by there past 3 years of performance or lack their of.

Hopfully once BB10 hits, the positives will start to come out and take over all this negative press. And just maybe Vic will shut it or go away.

Firstly, will Vic read this?
How many people at RIM do you think will read this? I like the fact that you do make emphasis on needing the board to be shaken up, it seems normally Crackberry agrees with everything RIM says, but I like that your saying something different here.
And I agree with how much bad Vic is doing for RIM and the shareholders that he says he is "representing". From my experience, consumers see something bad in the media and instantly go to, RIM is failing, BB10 is not coming, I'm getting an iPhone. RIM is responsible for where it is now, but for a guy who has $3 million invested in it, he is not helping out the company.

Alboini does NOT have $3 million invested in RIM. $3 million is the total market capitalization for Jaguar. No one knows exactly what Jaguar's total # of shares is, but it could be really tiny. A single share is all you need to be granted admittance to RIM's AGM.

Re: speculations on why Alboini does what he does, I think it really is purely and simply the desire to be interviewed regularly in the mainstream media. There could be a double component to this. The guy can generate business for Jaguar and Northern by his media presence, but there's also a narcissistic or self-validating element to it. The guy has run both of his companies into the ground after envisioning a status as a major Bay Street "Playah" after he left that law firm.

If one of his reasons is to help clients win big on their short bets, or if he somehow is running short bets through a third party, that would be beyond sleazy, both for him and for the media who give him his podium. If it ever came out, it would be the ruin of his reputation, so I don't think that could be his game. At the same time, his chief RIM analyst at Northern, Sameet Kanade, had a $7 target on RIM for half a year before it finally did sink to that level, and the constant barrage of comments from Kanade and Alboini certainly helped RIM's sp hit its present depth.

"If one of his reasons is to help clients win big on their short bets, or if he somehow is running short bets through a third party, that would be beyond sleazy"

"constant barrage of comments from Kanade and Alboini certainly helped RIM's sp hit its present depth"

You got it in one (or is that two).

Why else would he continually run RIM down in the press? There is no other explanation.

If he represents anything like 8% in the company he'd have direct access to the board and certainly would not want to wash dirty linen in public.

Alboini is not stupid. Therefore the only motive in running down RIM is that it makes him money.

And giving the guy more press (unless it's to discredit him) is counter productive for RIM.

+10, br14. I just don't see how a guy with claims of a really deep expertise in RIM would hold onto a big long position all the way from $20 earlier this year to $7. His own "star" employee at Northern has been calling for a $7.50 share price for a long time, so you'd think it would actually have been the DUTY of both men to recommend short positions to their clients. The only other motivation I can see in Alboini's posturing is the publicity it brings to Jaguar and Northern. Both companies, last I checked, need all the help they can get! Shares in both are worth 4.5 cents.

Still makes me think that at the next AGM, I may end up always be standing in front of him. If this causes the media not to be able to interview him, oh well!

Chris & Kevin, that's a very brave and straight forward editorial that you have written. It takes courage to write this up, even it means people will not like it. RIMM needs to be more bold and less curvey at this critical point in time (all puns intended! xD)

BlackBerry Curve 8520 | BlackBerry Torch 9810 |
Oh how I love the BlackBerry!! <3<3 | BB by choice!

Good article. I would recommend the followiing take place at the next AGM meeting or the next time Mr. Alboini is going to show up for media exposure...

Kevin should show up in a (rented) Pearl White Limo and pull an Alboini....step out right in front of the media cameras talking on his white 9900. It would be nice if you could cut-ff Mr. Alboini's driver and make him wait. I wonder if the media would pounce on what Kevin had to say?

Great read Crackberry dudes!!

The thing about Vic as far as I can tell is that he clearly understands the 48 Laws of Power as well as the Art of War. He's well aware of the ignorance of the media. But that ignorance is built on the short attention span of the public...he knows this. And since investment is really just about perception and speculation, what better way to force RIM's hand than through the media. I may disagree with him on a lot of things but he knows what he's talking about. This one paragraph did it for me:

"But we don't see [BlackBerry 10] being the salvation for RIM. The problem is that if you wait until you get the results from the emergence of the BB10 phones, you could very well have a $3 stock price. At that point if you're starting to look at strategic options you're talking about selling the company or parts of the company that might give you the $3, maybe $4 maybe $5 if you're really lucky. So our concern is that you've got to get underway now in examining the options. It doesn't mean you have to necessarily implement any particular option but you've got to know what the landscape is now."

Woah!

The problem for Vic is that he is not willing to risk. You have to give RIM credit for having the guts to try to turn it around. All Vic wants is to make quick money and not take the risk. He has an investment with RIM but he is not invested IN RIM. He doesn't care about the company, the people or its future. He has one single focus...force the split-up of RIM in order to sell so he can count his money. Short term is all he is thinking. He is taking the easy way out.

While I don't agree with his tactics, he's made some pretty good points. Why the board hasn't been swept clean is disconcerting when the stock is diving like a submarine.

And of course he's interested in making money - he runs an (admittedly small) investment firm. All he cares about should be making money.

Let me join the chorus here: Thank you Kevin and Chris for a great article!
Clear, fair, detailed, honest....

Great article, Kevin and Chris. Very fair.

Vic is a smart guy, he knows what he's doing. If he's not making money off RIM by shorting, maybe someone is paying him to drive RIM's price down to make it a better/cheaper target for a takeover. Incidentally, anyone know why he left McCarthy Tetrault? Not sure why a partner with one of the Seven Sisters would leave...

Yeah , just go on and blame this guy and make him a scapegoat. " There is nothing wrong with RIM" as Thorsten put it.:)

Did you read the article? Really. Did you read it. Who the hell made him a scapegoat? If I take what you tell me and misinterpret it, is it your fault?

@ Kevin

You should forward this to BNN and Kim Parle from your recently interview.

At least it would give the media some perspective with Vic.

Thanks for the clarification on who that man is. Turns out, he's an insignificant share holder, so let's move on then and ignore that little megalomaniac cockroach and concentrate on the future with BB10.

Great write up.
I still think and say that CrackBerry does an excellent job on reporting the facts and not on Sensationalism.

This guy scares me. He is far too focussed on the sale of RIm and not its overall success. What does the current evaluation of RIM being sold off matter if there are no plans on selling it until after the current revamp has been launched. And why in the world would you spend money to find out irrellevant information. No matter what a report would find it won't be used. It makes me think the only reason for wanting to replace board members is to replace them with people who would sell RIM. It surely isn't because they aren't experienced. As stated they have been there for years and even if they were there juring the period when mistakes were made it doesn't make them not experienced. It means they made a mistake. Experience is learned by making mistakes because as you can see they were also there juring the revamp of the OS which is the major thing that will save RIM in the end. This guy needs to take a seat in the back row and listen to some of opinions of other shareholders.

Don't pay attention to what he says, pay attention to what he does.

It's quite evident from the comments on this board that even the least knowledgable of us realizes that what Mr Alboini is doing is not good for RIM.

So why do it? And why do it so continuously?

Because he makes money when the price falls.

He couldn't care less about RIM shareholder value. If he did, he wouldn't be spouting nonsense to the press (and with typical schadenfreude they love to interview the guy).

*Rant Alert*

Excellent article guys. But I'm going to don the hat of cynic here. I take Vic Alboini here as someone who's perfectly happy with how things are, at the moment. The only thing that would make it perfect for him is if RIM does sell its assets. This would make his "manufactured" clout, on the company, permanent in the media's eyes. He's not going to change for the better of the company, shareholders, media, just his own interests, which isn't the case.

And as for the media they couldn't care less about being factually accurate with the momentum they see towards RIM. Holding themselves to a higher standard is essentially "charity" and they can't be bothered. It's far more "cost efficient" to write a unchecked negatively spun article.

Again, I do not hope/wish/dream about Alboini's or the medias turnaround/conscience. That's just not how this game is played. And I only figure e-mailing/redirecting will only signal to these guys that they have your attention (success); not that they need to change what they're doing (if it ain't broke why fix it?).

Is it hopeless? No. I'm personally making it a point to correct the people around me of the BS that crops up on a daily basis. As for RIM, screw the media and vultures like Vic and go directly to the consumers. Do the marketing and engage aggressively. If you're going to go, go with a bang. Inform and change the public opinion. The consumer will respond in kind by by ignoring/boycotting their trash peddled by these guys.

*End Rant*

Should we be concerned that an allegedly reputable financial services company is represented on the internet by a web site that is flagged as malware? This guy is an old joke brought to life........."How do you know he's lying (misrepresenting)?......his lips are moving"

" Remember, Tim Cook of Apple is not a visionary leader like Steve Jobs was. Yet Apple seems rock solid since the unfortunate passing of Jobs. "

Really? Do you really think so? Apple's long term outlook without Mr. Jobs is not in anyway a lock. Their sales are not nearly showing the same strength as the last couple of years. OS6 looks to be no major step forward and the early consensus on the Iphone 5 have been less than stellar. The next three months will be very telling. Replacing one of the all time visionary's with a COO is not anywhere near a slam dunk.

My point being that it always, ALWAYS starts with great product. Being a steady leader is great for operations, but it is not nearly enough to lead a technology company.

I thought this was a well written and thought out article. You gave him an opportunity to communicate what his thoughts were, your issues in how he addresses the media/allows the media to communicate his standing or vested interest, where you all agree, and go from there. I agree that some of the board have to go. If they were part of the downfall, you should be replaced. I don't know what value they could get right now with licensing if they're trying to add long term value at this point. If no one knows what BB10 can do, I don't think they can command what they want in a negotiating setting. There's still time to become the valuable 3rd ecosymstem. The smartphone market will only grow. No matter what anyone says, no one is beholden to one ecosystem. I remember when everyone wanted a nextel phone with the two way radio. Fads come and go so you have to adapt and be able to innovate and think ahead. I hope that is the case with BB10.

____________________________________________

The difficult, we do immediately. The impossible takes a little while longer.

An investor's priority is a fast return on investment, not creating great products/services that make people's lives better. Interestingly, that's the Apple Inc. goal that turned it into the most profitable technology company in the world.

I think this article is far too generous with regards to the intent of this man, you give him the benefit of the doubt over his misrepresentations to the media and put the blame on their laziness when it has happened so many times that it is quite clear that he is intentionally using that laziness to his own benefit.

His actions seem like they are being done intentionally to disrupt the stock price to such an extent that somebody comes in with a bid and he can make a quick profit just from mouthing off in the media.

Good article, not for what is says about Albioni, but rather because it stands out as a piece of near clear-headed realism / analysis in contrast to what usually appears on this site. I sincerely hope that CB builds on that, and holds its contributors to higher standards than apologetics and cheer leading. RIMM needs friendly critics who are willing to face facts objectively and unflinchingly, tackle tough issues and suggest solid solutions, even if they are unpopular.

Most of what he's saying is spot on. Board needs to change. CEO needs to change. BB10 needs to come out. RIM needs to have a fall back plan in case BB10 fails or doesn't perform as well as expected. I actually agree with all of that. The thing about him is that he's got his own self interest at hand and it's not in line with the best interest of RIM or Blackberry nation. But so what? that's his prerogative. If that makes him a dick, ok, but RIM management and board does need to get their asses kicked a bit harder. They are still not doing enough to right the ship.

I wish I'm at my computer now so I can google what that person have done (or still do). But there is one thing I can get from reading this article. That person (I prefer not giving him more popularity by mentioning his name because it's one of major reasons behind his stunt about RIM) only interested to get his own agenda by riding RIM's current company state. He knows that in order to get what he want,he need-no,he must have other people to believe him. He started by stating lots of facts,forcing his way to media,building public image of him. People will listen when they hear facts,and unaware that he continuously inserting his agenda among his media show. That way he can get his name known as a vocal voice while brainwashing people who bought his words into believing his agendas as one of the facts he said. Misleading statements is only an excuse. There is a difference between giving 'false statement among facts statement' and media fact-cropping (it's my term for cropped news/quotes that media does to get people's attention).

In short, whether he mentioned some facts and good points, for me that will not grant him my trust that what he's doing are for shareholder's interest. or user's interest like me. What he does is only fueling more negative media cover for RIM. If he really want the best for shareholders,those shareholders are the ones who he have to convince, not the media. He should lobby or talk or email or phone the shareholders about what he want for RIM to do. And not telling media some facts and slips in a little self ads and negative opinions about RIM. For me, this guy only have short term goal. Gaining popularity and getting cash by selling anything he can force RIM to sell. He does not have-no, don't want to have long term goal regarding RIM. It's purely getting what he can get as fast as possible. Popularity, and giving more negative pressure to RIM.

Fantastic piece, guys, and as a RIM shareholder myself I really appreciate the background on this guy.

I further appreciate the effort to provide a balanced picture. I agree that many of Alboini's demands are actually reasonable, but that his questionable media tactics tend to weaken his own credibility.

Only the typical trolls think this story is garbage. If only journalists would take the time to investigate what they're told. But alas. Why investigate when you can get paid the same amount and do no work? It sells ads. Who cares? They're still in business and they aren't held to account (New York Times). They can retract but next day spew more filth.

Excellent Article. I know this took along time to write up, THANK YOU so much Kevin and Chris for taking the time to write this, and to address Jaguar, the media, the board and CrackBerry nation.

But we don't see [BlackBerry 10] being the salvation for RIM. The problem is that if you wait until you get the results from the emergence of the BB10 phones, you could very well have a $3 stock price. At that point if you're starting to look at strategic options you're talking about selling the company or parts of the company that might give you the $3, maybe $4 maybe $5 if you're really lucky.

Stock price is not a reason to come up with "strategic otpions". Jesus christ. This guy manages money. He is a moron. If hte comapny doubles free cash flow and the stock drops to $3, you shouldn't be seeking strategic options, you should be puttting all your money into it. God, if FCF tanks post BB10, then you seek strategic options. WHAT A MORON.

+1. If only he would concentrate on getting his own financial house in order. What he seems to be doing is trying to show his investors that he can be vocal. JagCap is at 0.77/share. So sad.

Same board?

Prem Watsa is now on it. You might as well have Warren Buffett on the board and this guy wouldn't be happy.

Of course he wouldn't. Buffett is a value investor, and that would send all the wrong signals for Albioni. Albioni seems to be shorting the stock while giving the impression that he holds it. If this is true, isn't it contrary to SEC regulations?

I've read the post twice. My views are perfectly aligned as yours. Nothing to add - prepare for the worst, hope for the best

Finally an article on CrackBerry that can effect change for BlackBerry customers and RIM shareholders. Now only if we had someone from RIM's BOD or management that would take the initiative to respond to the CrackBerry community given the issues Kevin and Chris raise. The optics of the share sales by Heins are terrible. What will it take from RIM BOD or management to toss shareholders a bone? Saunders is partially right when he says waiting is the hardest part but he'd be bang on if he said waiting and be left dangling is the hardest part. If they had a corporate conscience they'd feel shameful.

Yup. Also RIM should have a correspondent attached to every major news outlet in the U.S to set things straight. Should be a direct line. This is not only part of marketing, it's all PR.

Good Read Kevin.
If our politicians were more like you, this would be a great honest country.

Thanks for you straight forward article.

Now SPAM Jaguar Financial

Let's show everyone the facts. Drum um support for this blog by Tweeting it. +1 to start. Get enough people going and let loose?

First, an excellent post. I was at the AGM and witnessed that arrival scrum after I had walked up from the designated parking lot. And it was a media frenzy; I was even approached and interviewed. But since I supported the company's general direction, that was not media fodder.

On the other hand I do agree with changing directors. As one who has been close to Silicon Valley in the Internet age, RIM needs some director level networking and technology expertise involving key players in the Valley.

But Alboini gave away his weakness when he appeared on CBC National later that evening and suggested RIM should be sold to Microsoft or Facebook. Somehow he seems to think with their large cash balances they can just spend away.

Well, the same day Steve Ballmer was in Toronto at Microsoft's annual global partner meeting announcing that this would be Microsoft's biggest launch year with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Office whatever (2013 or 365 or ???). He also needs to consolidate Microsoft's recent largest acquisition - Skype for $8.5B. (Did anyone notice that Microsoft just wrote off another $6.5B acquisition that did not work out?) Ballmer needs to focus on what he's got and to demonstrate success before his board is going to do any more large acquisitions. RIM would get no interest from Microsoft any time soon; especially since MS is trying to get a competitive Windows Phone off the ground.

As for Facebook, they have enough issues just digesting a poorly handled IPO and subsequent stock price decline. Buying into smartphone hardware is not going to solve their issues with generating revenue from smartphone applications.

Just running around buying anyone is not the way these acquisitions happen. They arise through mutually identified interests (some succeed; some fail) and from an identified need within the company's strategy. They are responsible to their shareholders for execution as much as RIM is currently.

Alboini is just dreaming if he thinks RIM is about to capture the attention of Steve Ballmer or Mark Zuckerberg at this time. They may have cash but they don't just give it away, as Alboini seems to think.

(I was with a company that once tried to do acquisitions with limited cash and eventually failed but got my eyes opened such as to getting an understanding about how M&A's work in Si Valley. I was also peripherally involved in the acquisition, by a NASDAQ-listed company, of one of my clients about 12 years ago.)

Jim Courtney
Editor and Publisher
Voice On The Web

That manipulation of the media is what the media love, nobody is responsible, he says the media misinterpreted him and the media says that's what he said or we are telling from a known source. Wonderfull isn't it. They can say whatever they want and no one is accountable. RIM should have a press department counter striking this kind of news swiftly and fast. This will unmask this kind of people or reporters on their own game.

Just my 2 cents!

Just tweeted CBC, CNN Money, MSNBC, BNN News. The more who do, the more they will pay attention @msnbc @cnnmoney @bnnnews @cbcbusiness.
*Edit* everyone should report this article to their respective media outlets. It's too bad we are doing what RIM PR and marketing should be doing... smh. SHAME on RIM.

There's a tactic of letting users do things for you out of loyalty. But there's also a difference between 'letting loyal users be the vanguard' and 'ignorance'. And I'm glad RIM isn't being ignorant so far.

I think RIM is doing their share of PR war by showing up more than before to the media. And their response so far are better than before the company restructurisation (or whatever the right term lol). That's why I think we as users should help them too,if we want to be able to keep using their services,regardless we have their shares or not. That's why I support what you do and I am doing the similar thing on fb. The more of us users helping RIM by spreading the right thing/positive sentiments everywhere, the better for RIM-as long as they can maintain their image as a great brand by doing everything necessary for them to give their services better.

+1. If only we could get the article trending. Just checked the CB Tweet has been RT'd only about a dozen times.

It's all about trends these days. People will follow whatever is popular and what most people are doing. Finding flaws and writing more negative about it is what most people look for in articles. That's what sells and supposedly makes you the top journalist and popular. But like Mom always says, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all." Why bash RIM. Why bring them down when they are a company that revolutionized the mobile industry. Paved the way for all these other platforms! Look at the GOOD things.. Don't hate, appreciate!

I just know BlackBerry 10 is going to be awesome! And nobody will be able to deny that!..

If Mr. Alboini's comments caused RIM to respond with board member changes it would be great. It seems though that he has his own agenda but it doesn't make sense for RIM to sell off parts of the company etc. There is room for a product like the Blackberry as the market grows worldwide. Let's face it, RIM is so far ahead of companies attempting to get into the phone design/making business. Firms such as Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook etc. Look how far behind they are with patents, know how, experience. I don't care how much money they throw at it, they can not beat RIM at this game. These companies should be looking at a strategic partnership with RIM - maybe they are...

This is not how capitalism works...but it is how selfishness works. There is a huge difference. Capitalism enables a person with vision...the founder of RIM...to create BlackBerry. He has earned millions and has seen fit to give back to the community and to society as a whole. Mr. Alboini is only concerned for self. He does not want to build, to create, to share...all he wants to do is tear down, and in the process create a fortune for himself. He is indeed a wolf in sheep's clothing. And like the Bible says when dealing with his kind, RIM needs to be "shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove".

Please, please, please don't give this guy the media attention he craves.

He's playing a game. Don't be so naive.

He makes money when RIM's price falls.

LOL, what a joke this guy Alboini is. RIM should ban them from buying their stock. Maybe he's a mole planted by Apple. Love the article guys, keep up the good work!

Really well written story guys. You must be journalists by trade_trained. I have never heard of this guy but as a former rim employee I can tell you that he is serving a purpose. The board has proven that they are at least portraying aloof like traits and he serves to spotlight them. I disagree that he is damaging the companies reputation etc... They did that themselves. I am still rooting for a cinderella story with rim and this guy may be helping to make that happen. Calling out every bit of the board members incompetence or lack of cohesion is a good thing.