Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis not the worst Tech CEO's of 2011, but what do you think?

By Bla1ze on 6 Dec 2011 12:27 pm EST
BlackBerry Outage or Outrage?

RIM has no doubt had a rough year but it wasn't rough enough the 200 people polled to vote them as the worst tech CEO's of 2011. That dubious glory has been handed to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings after single handedly increasing subscription prices and irritating customers further by starting an initiative to split up Netflix's DVD-by-mail and subscription services. Reed Hastings took 58% of the votes while Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis took 19% of the vote but we, of course are curious how BlackBerry owners feel about the votes.

Sure, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have taken some missteps along the way but it's always easy to be an armchair critic and say how things should be run from afar. Are the missteps RIM had this year enough to have them ousted from the company they built -- remember, RIM has had a great run for the past 10 years and 2011 is just one year, one that was noted on many occasion by those in charge that it would be a year of transition and the road ahead would indeed be a bumpy one.

Source: The Street

Reader comments

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis not the worst Tech CEO's of 2011, but what do you think?


As a fervent follower of RIM and Blackberry, it's hard not to vote for these two as being the worst. They've made some pretty spectacular missteps in 2011, and it's impossible to deny the decline in stock value and market share this year. Maybe the juice of 2012 is worth the squeeze of 2011? We can only hope.

Wait you are telling me that they are made mistakes like what? Half baked playbook? well they thougt that it will get sort out quickly. And if Imay remind you first walkthrough bbm, calendar were already there, only problem is that they don't realise it. Also, if they would wait for a year to realise it (because that is how much time it is taking them) there would be no market left with all samsung, transformers , and Ipads. Postpoened? Well not everything can be forcasted. Stock value? I'm shoure that Mike and Jim are selling theire stocks :>. I actualy hink that lower the stock now the better because to start somthing new the best way is to burn bridges, move forword and establish somthing complitle new.
Now realy what is the rolle of CEO? It is same as of president and prime Minister. They are symboles and faces no actual power. They may only rush theire workers, and state where they want to go next (like QNX)
Finally all good things they did like acaering new companys that raise theire potential and over time will bring big benefits.

It's true, it's super easy to criticize decisions. Heck, while driving, the passenger can tell you one mistake you did per minute. That's because they are just busy watching out for mistakes and don't actually need to focus on driving, pressing on the pedal at a constant pressure, watch out in case the car in front stops suddenly and all those things as well as keep the car going straight ahead.

I think what they need is 2 people watching from the inside giving them opinions at all times without knowing company details (being outsiders) this way whatever goes on in there will not limit possibilities, but the CEOs will know what needs to be done and try to do it, not matter what is going on internally.

This is a thing that has to be already in place and I don't actually know if it is actually being done currently anywhere. I'm just pushing an idea.

Come on RIM, you can do it!

Very big ones that is, each one likely handles a different part of the company. Rim has two, it could use a third (genious geeky college guy or lady with a BIG brilliant open creative mind not bent on windows, but on Linux with strong programming skills), it could provide some insight to give the older crew some great ideas. Not that it's a bad idea. Hell, if I didn't have a disability and had those skills, I'd be working for rim long ago.

I like the idea of a break.
There have been a number of CEOs (well not co-ceos) who have stepped down and turned companies around.
Starbucks for example, Howard Schultz stepped down as CEO and became the Board of Directors, eventually the company began failing, he eventually stepped back up in 2006 and Starbucks is a whole lot more properous.
Apple and Steve Jobs, we all know the story there, so I don't need to explain.
I believe Dell was also an example at one point.

If anything, they need a refresh button, page up, scroll down, get inspired and create.

When Steve Jobs was brought back in to run Apple, he was of the opinion their products were boring. That's when the iMac was born, then the iPod, the iPod Touch, the iPhone and iPad. His philosophy was simple: give me your best, then do better. Apple went from near irrelevancy to become the most valuable tech company in the world.

Jobs was a game changer and a trail blazer. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are not. Things will continue in a downward spiral if changes are not made at the top in 2012. RIM needs to find a charismatic figure to inspire, right the ship and innovate.

After watching my first DevCon keynote, I would have to say the format needs to be redone. Instead of having a CEO stand there and ask questions to the presenters, as if he has no idea what's going on, perhaps just have him introduce the presenters and get off stage while they're showing their stuff.

I couldn't watch. That question then answer conversation was so damn annoying. They need to have one guy out there talking about what they are there to show off, like what the other companies do.

The grass isn't always greener.

Why do we need to replace the two people who built RIM.

Surely their passon alone is something that no one can replace.

Its their company, and its a great company.

Why are you moaning?

Back seat drivers. Keep your trust. Keep the faith.

Peace out, bye!

I've read some stock analysts suggest a company (not RIM) have a co-CEO's because that particular company wasn't doing so well. So, what's better, one or two CEO's?!

They have had quite a few stumbles in the last year. However, they (and especially Mike) built this company from nothing and it is quite a company.

Best secure phones for the public.
Best e-mail and messaging.
Best keyboard in the world.

They did create the Bold 9930 after all. I say that certainly gives them a shot at working through the BBX launch.

We learn as we go. Now, we can say that launching a product before it is fully prepared has costs that are quite high. Mike said, they learned their lesson and that they will not launch the BBX phone until it is ready to go.

I look at all that RIM has been doing with their acquisitions and new product launches and I think they are heading in the right direction.

I say, give them until next year to prove they still got the BlackBerry mojo. If they succeed, and I believe they will, then it was just a touch patch with lots of lessons that will make them stronger in the future.

Good luck guys!

2011 is the culmination of years and years of bad decision making. If Jim and Mike had been on their toes in 2007 and made tough decisions early on, things would be very different for shareholders and blackberry addicts.


Going back a few years there were many that didn't understand RIM not answering the Apple/Android challenge. Instead we got the STORM that sold like crazy, but how many of those customers left with a bad taste in their mouth??

I voted for them to turn over the ranks but maybe a break is what they need. There can also be the effort to get some creative minds and take some chances

I think with the coming of BBX they are now starting to get their shit together, but I think they should have been planning ahead,and had BBX "finished" (equivalent to OS 2.0) and first phones out at the start of the year -not the Playbook with a work in progress OS.

So I think they are a year behind where they should be, though I think the Playbook was a smart move on their part considering their previous lack of foresight. Makes it so next years BBX phones will have some software selection, and they can crush a bunch of bugs. They will be at around the same point in development as Windows Phone 7, assuming BBX 2.0 is complete when it comes out.

I don't like the choices. The truth is that Rim is in a horrible position in the market right now, has to find a new direction that can catch the eye of consumers, and with the leverage they have with QNX it's a definite possibility. However, they really have to hit a home run to even stay in the game at this point. Here's my hint to them. Get the phones, the Playbook and every vehicle out there with your QNX technology working fantastically together, and quickly get a hit game or two onto those platforms. Lastly, highlight the keyboard. Most people, once they use it, are very jealous of it in comparison to their "virtual keyboards".

When everything was great with BlackBerry these guys were considered genious' now when there are problems all the blame is on them too. I think they have their ducks in a row and are ready to get things going in the right direction again. I believe that 2012 is gonna be the year of the BlackBerry again. Move over Apple and Android............we will be black....oops...back!!!

Both should remain co-CEOs, but perhaps someone else as President. Several blunders in the past year are inexcusable and hurt the company and their prestigious BlackBerry name:

1. Hogging large stock of PlayBooks at $499 then selling them off at $199 as if in a panic. FAIL!

2. Holding back on basic PlayBook features (native email & PIM) in favour of a bigger release with Android support. FAIL!

3. Not releasing anything new for the PlayBook till the new year! NO marketing, nothing new to sell the device! FAIL!

4. Having no real sales and development strategy for the PlayBook! MAJOR FAIL!

5. Releasing inconsequential products like the various Curve devices that have a very small market in Timbuktu!

I respect Mike & Jim, but I am starting to believe:

1. They need help!

2. They don't have good help!

3. Something needs to change.

BTW, the other crises the company has had the past few months isn't important. People move on and look past these short term events. The real problem appears to be one of vision, direction, and planning! Most importantly, a focus on marketing is very, very necessary. The carriers won't market their devices, and RIM doesn't appear to understand how to market products to consumers.

The BB7 devices are awesome! Really awesome. I still have issue with not putting a front facing camera in them when everyone else has one, but the devices are very well built. No one cares about how good these devices are because RIM is not selling it. RIM needs to make their users feel important again and not making them feel like second class citizens to iPhone and Android users. The media players are as good as the competition, especially BBM Music. Show it on TV, brag about the great stuff RIM is doing! Use YouTube -- it is FREE!!! Be creative and send out a bunch of videos for all the great things people can do with their BlackBerrys. Do it, and do it now before BlackBerry is obliterated by those greenish-yellow drones!

I still think a BlackBerry Touch, like the iPod Touch -- a carrier-less device, would be a great thing to sell to the younger generation. Currently, the iPod Touch has no equal. They're everywhere in the schools. The closest thing RIM has is the PlayBook, but at the retail of $499, it is out of most kids' price range. You don't want the carriers getting in the way, so this would be a great avenue to grow your ecosystem. Kids & teens would welcome having a $150 BlackBerry that does BBM and plays games without having to worry about a data plan.

Really? a ~200 people poll... thats pathetic...even engaget got more hater then this.That poll is not worth mentioning at all.

Also its not worth to discuss about something when we have virtually no knowledge about it.Articles like this only encourage more hating.

Well following the quarterly report blackberry has done $600+ million in profit in Q3, and over 2.2 billion this year to date.
Yes the company has to share market share, but I can tell you from a frontline Communication Sales Rep perspective that over %50 of our stores sales are Blackberries. This is regardless of every other customer asking for a iPhone cause their friend has one and they are sheep following the herd.
A Blackberry is the only device not allowed into countries because it is too secure. RIM is the only company to give new customers programs just because of a server outage that didnt even affect the new customer.

This is the time to "BUY" stock in RIM why? Last year we were recovering from a credit crunch... Blackberry had the best Q3 quarter EVER over $900 million profit. Now the stockholders run away cause the spent 2011 focusing on development for 2012. What has Apple done? OH WAIT the man who held 40% of their shares has passed away!

Need I keep ranting, yes there are mistakes EVERY company makes them, but do you hold a patent portfolio that makes every other cellular manufacturer envious? Do you sell the phone the Canadian Government uses as its Smartphone?

I own a Blackberry and have for years. I bought a Playbook when they first came out. I will not change because of a companies stockholders.

In some ways they are right- transitioning away from the old BBOS was never going to be easy. And the playBook has made a difference to my life. It will make a bigger difference once OS2 is out, but it's okay so far. On the other hand, bricking OS7 devices and battery problems isn't great. And the delays with the playbook aren't great either. Or the outages. Someone more dynamic and better with the public needs to be leading the way.

That, RIGHT THERE, dictates their beheading. What are the shareholders waiting for? 81%? 91%?

Heck, give me a tenth of your investment and I'll kick you in the junk. Same feeling, but will cost you just tenth the price!

My "Exhibit A" for why they need to be replaced:

It was reported on this website that one of them, I believe it was Balsillie, fought against the inclusion of cameras and was astounded that it's customers wanted them in their phones. I believe that they are both intelligent men, but over time smartphones have changed and as such, they are totally clueless as to the market.

"Exhibit B" would be the handling of the Playbook from release to today.

His shock for Exhibit A might be because most of his clients want security?

There are camera-less versions of Blackberry's still, for this very reason.

He didn't want ANY cameras in Blackberries. Although I agree that security was a reason, this bolsters my argument that he needs to be replaced because he is only thinking of the Blackberry as a corporate tool.

They need to focus on the advertising side of BlackBerry because too many people aren't even aware of all the things a BB can do or how good they are . Without that BLackBerry will stay behind the rest . Maybe they'll do more for BBX .

As for your exhibit A- I know for a fact that it is only recently that cameras were allowed in many workplaces. My son works for a network development and installation company that works in many hospitals and pharmacutical companies and they could not take in any devices with cameras on them- it is only the last 2 years where they have relaxed that rule. RIM having been first and foremost for business had to understand that. Now they are catering more to the average consumer and their cameras are top quality- right up there with all the rest!

Who are you going to replace the founders of a company with that will do it better? That may be a normal part of going from small startup (entrepreneur) to large company ( business operations expertise required) but this company has already made that transition. It has successfully navigated its way to becoming a 20 + Billion/ year global enterprise. Well done! There is a great deal of learning that has been done in the last two years I believe about what it is going to take to stay here and move to the next level again in this business. RIM is now competing with the very best in business globally and my suggestion is that greater independent oversight at the board level is probably enough. A hired gun American CEO will NOT be better for RIM...... guaranteed.

There are some very good comments above. Some miss the mark. The problem is ONLY Marketing. Period! Full Stop. Lets take the Monday Morning Quarterback approach to prove my point. Suppose two or three years ago RIM introduced a BBX system that would blow the socks of anything not only yet seen but anything that would be available in 2015. It could have happened, I am just proposing this fantasy to prove a point. I contend the things still wouldn't sell in the fickle USA and many Western Markets. Why. Blackberrys are the coolest things out there for many reasons, but who is selling them. I am talking advertizing. I am talking a PR department that can answer concerns and understand that we live in a world where you can sell junk that looks cool as long as you make people want to buy it. I love my Style. It is my 6th Blackberry. I miss SureType. It is far to powerful a concept to let die, but they had to because no one was explaining how powerful it was. I love my Playbook. It might be "half baked" but it is far more baked than any other tablet out there. Bar None! You can complain it doesn't do this, or it doesn't do that, but the real short coming to me is not the lack of apps or the fact that it does have the best email program in the world, because I have a blackberry phone, but that no one is buying them. So cases and other accessories are just not available.
If Blackberry is to survive they need to advertize. They need to communicate with their customers.
I want Be Silly and Lazarus to raise the dead. I believe they have, I believe they will again. But they will have to have someone else explain that they have, or no one will see the miracle. PS I can't wait for my company to give me a 9930. But unless Blackberry learns how to market, I am fully aware it might be my last. So Sad
Cellcom Employee

To me RIM = BUSINESS and their move to make RIM = CONSUMER OR BUSINESS has just had a rough transition. The needs / wants of these two group are DIFFERENT and by 2012, hopefully, RIM will have a better grasp.

Actually, I disagree. Apple and Google were able to merge both markets with one OS. Many businesses are making the switch from BB to iOS or Android.

These guys are stale and incompetent. Time for fresh blood.

I think they are starting to address that problem with "Blackberry Balance" Hopefully they will continue to improve it.

I disagree that apple & android have addressed this....they are both bad for business (especially android) You look at
Large corporations with 500+ employees. They are almost exclusively BlackBerry. Apple has definitely made inroads with smaller, less security concerned companies though.....

Rim will make a come back but they don't need to wait to long to get BBX out or they will loose more market share. I am hearing March of 2012 for BBX but it would be better in January 2012.

Fire them....or make them step down. I am sure something is about to happen. Either way, we will get new ceo's or a buy out will happen.

I think from a stockholder, market and consumer based prospective a 'new face' would be a wise choice...even tho all the issues are not Mike or Jim related. The media just jumps on the bad news.

I must admit, the early playbook release was bad and the pricing was even worse! I hope someone gets fired for that.

Where is Lee Harvey Oswald when u need him?

Balsillie should go, Mike should stay. I think they disagree too much with each other, and every decision they announce is a compromise. Mike needs to get a very creative marketing person in a senior position and stay out of that part of the business. Too bad it will never happen.