Press Release: Research In Motion Names Thorsten Heins President and CEO

By Kevin Michaluk on 22 Jan 2012 09:23 pm EST


Wow. HUGE news is out tonight from Research In Motion. Lots of follow up to come so keep it locked to CrackBerry. Read the official press release below and check out all of our related stories in the links at the bottom of this post.

Press Release

WATERLOO, ONTARIO, Jan 22, 2012 -- The Board of Directors of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) today announced that, acting on the recommendation of its Co-Chief Executive Officers to implement the succession plan they previously submitted to the Board, it has unanimously named Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Heins was also appointed to RIM's Board. The Board acted after conducting its own due diligence. Both appointments are effective immediately.

Mike Lazaridis, former Co-Chair and Co-CEO, has become Vice Chair of RIM's Board and Chair of the Board's new Innovation Committee. As Vice Chair, he will work closely with Mr. Heins to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide.

Mr. Heins said he looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Lazaridis, globally recognized as a technology pioneer. He said, "Mike created a whole new way of communicating and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration."

On the transition to CEO by Mr. Heins, Mr. Lazaridis said, "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. With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond. Jim, the Board and I all agreed that leader should be Thorsten Heins."

Jim Balsillie remains a member of the Board. "I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company," he said. "I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support."

Mr. Lazaridis said that he decided to move from Co-Chair to Vice Chair of the Board in order to return the public's focus to what is most important: "the great company we have built, its iconic products, global brand and its talented employees."

Mr. Lazaridis added, "Thorsten has demonstrated throughout his tenure at RIM that he has the right mix of leadership, relevant industry experience and skills to take the company forward. We have been impressed with his operational skills at both RIM and Siemens. 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."

Mr. Heins said he believes that RIM has tremendous potential. He joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in December 2007 as Senior Vice President for Hardware Engineering and became Chief Operating Officer for Product and Sales in August 2011.

"Mike and Jim took a bold step 18 months ago when RIM purchased QNX to shepherd the transformation of the BlackBerry platform for the next decade," Mr. Heins said. "We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim's continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company's future."

Mr. Heins said that RIM has a strong foundation on which to build. "We have a strong balance sheet with approximately $1.5 billion in cash at the end of the last quarter and negligible debt. We reported revenue of $5.2 billion in our last quarter, up 24% from the prior quarter, and a 35% year-to-year increase in the BlackBerry subscriber base, which is now over 75 million."

Mr. Heins said, "BlackBerry 7 has been well received. We are very excited about PlayBook 2.0 and BlackBerry 10. The reception of our products at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was encouraging."

He continued, "RIM earned its reputation by focusing relentlessly on the customer and delivering unique mobile communications solutions. We intend to build on this heritage to expand BlackBerry's leadership position."

Mr. Heins said that RIM has grown quickly. "As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains," he said. "We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result.

"Going forward, we will continue to focus both on short-term and long-term growth, strategic planning, a customer- and market-based product approach, and flawless execution. We are in the process of recruiting a new Chief Marketing Officer to work closely with our product and sales teams to deliver the most compelling products and services."

Barbara Stymiest, who formerly served as a member of Royal Bank of Canada's Group Executive and has been a member of RIM's Board since 2007, has been named the independent Board Chair. John Richardson, formerly Lead Director, will remain on the Board. Prem Watsa, Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings, also was named to the Board, expanding it to 11 members.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, Ms. Stymiest said: "We believe that Thorsten is the right executive to succeed Mike and Jim. He has 27 years of telecommunications experience, including four years at RIM in senior management positions. As a Board, we have been impressed with his outstanding management skills, his leadership and his accomplishments within the company."

Ms. Stymiest also expressed the Board's respect and admiration for Messrs. Lazaridis and Balsillie, the company they built, and the steps they have taken to position RIM for the future.

"They created RIM, nurtured it, and in the process not only built an iconic brand, but literally pioneered the smartphone industry," she said. "It is Canada's largest tech company and one of the largest in the world."

Conference Call and Webcast

A conference call and live webcast will be held beginning at 8 am ET, January 23, 2012, which can be accessed by dialing 1-800-814-4859 (North America), (+1)416-644-3414 (outside North America) or through your personal computer or BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. A replay of the conference call will also be available at approximately 10 am ET by dialing (+1)416-640-1917 and entering passcode 4509630#. A replay of the webcast will be available on your personal computer or BlackBerry PlayBook tablet by clicking the link above. This replay will be available until midnight ET, February 6, 2012.

About Thorsten Heins

Thorsten Heins, 54, is a respected business leader with 27 years of broad experience and expertise in wireless networks and consumer electronics devices. Mr. Heins has a global reputation for his organizational and leadership skills and his ability to build successful organizations that deliver on their commitments. Prior to today's announcement, Mr. Heins was one of RIM's two Chief Operating Officers and, before that, Senior Vice President for the Handheld Business Unit. He played key roles in the creation of RIM's product portfolio. Mr. Heins came to RIM in December 2007 from the industrial conglomerate Siemens AG. He joined Siemens in 1984 after graduating from the University of Hannover in his native Germany. At Siemens, Mr. Heins rose through the ranks of R&D customer service, sales and product management positions. After serving as Chief Executive Officer of various business divisions in the communication business, Mr. Heins moved to Chief Technology Officer and member of the Group Board of the Siemens Communications Group. He came to RIM after being impressed by the level of innovation displayed by founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. Mr. Heins is married with a daughter and a son. Away from RIM, he is usually outdoors bicycling, motorcycling, skiing or hiking.

About Barbara Stymiest

Barbara Stymiest has served as a director of RIM since March 2007. She has an HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, and an FCA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. Ms. Stymiest joined Royal Bank of Canada in 2004, where she served as a member of RBC's Group Executive, which is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company. Prior to that, she held positions as Chief Executive Officer at TSX Group Inc., Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer at BMO Nesbitt Burns and Partner of Ernst & Young LLP. Ms. Stymiest is currently a Director of George Weston Limited, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Royal Ontario Museum.

About Prem Watsa

Prem Watsa is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a financial services holding company whose corporate objective is to achieve a high rate of return on invested capital and build long-term shareholder value, since 1985. He is also Vice President of Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel Ltd. since 1985. Mr. Watsa formerly served as Vice President of GW Asset Management from 1983 to 1984 and in various positions, ultimately as a Vice President, with Confederation Life Investment Counsel from 1974 to 1983.

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Reader comments

Press Release: Research In Motion Names Thorsten Heins President and CEO


indeed ;)

i almost considered it but didn't bought. on the other hand i dont surr an internal solution helps - for the media and stock but hopefully for rims future.

whats great is that the new CEO has no intention to sell the company, etc. That he believes in QNX...i'm liking what I'm hearing....oh, and also, his first order of business is to hire a marketing exec!!!

Please let this all be good news for us RIM faithful

hmm I personaly would have liked to see how the changes they have made in the past 18 months worked out B4 seeing them leave. if BBX phones are a success, people are going to be complementing the new CEO, even though it would have been a direct result of these guys..........not saying they didn't make mistakes, becuase they did, however they have made some great moves l8ly & we are just starting to see them come together :(

Thanks Mike and Jim for all the good times I spent with my blackberries and all the goodness you contributed for that to be real. Hope you both the best and the best for RIM as well

guess no one really works for $1 after all.. I wonder what their prorated salary for 2011/to2012 was haha... no big change Thorseten Heins was always jim/mikes right hand man wont be a big whoopp

woooow. i really did not expect them to "voluntarily" step down. could it be that something went terribly wrong with BB10?

Blackberry Facebook:

Research In Motion names Thorsten Heins President and CEO. Mike Lazaridis, former Co-Chair and Co-CEO, becomes Vice Chair of RIM’s Board and Chair of Board’s New Innovation Committee. Jim Balsillie, former Co-CEO remains a member of the Board. RIM Board Member Barbara Stymiest named the independent Board Chair. Prem Watsa, CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings, also named to Board. Conference call and webcast information to be released shortly.

Thanks for the most secured phone in the planet, the best damn keyboard, the best damn tablet in a lot of aspects, speakers, camera, size, screen, shit, thanks for helping the industry. Thanks for BBM! The best damn email!

Thank you for everything Mike and Jim. I hope to see their imput on CrackBerry now. I hope this will be a positive change for such a great company.

Who is this Thorsten Heins and does he have the goods to lead RIM?

Good to see Jim and Mike still in it.

I'm alternating whether I'm surprised or not. Sort of, because it came at a weird time (Sunday night?) and because the Board has said they stand by them. Sort of not, because there was so much pressure on them that it seemed like it had to happen eventually.

Jim and Mike ultimately did an amazing job, and the past 3 or 4 years of decline shouldn't let us forget that they were the ones who got the company to that place at all. I wish them only the best.

Hate to see anyone lose a job in this economy, but these two had to go. Now get the playbook 2.0 out!!!!!

Mike and Jim are not bad people. Being all rude and saying things like "good riddance" is just immature and unnecessary. Not trying to be a jerk to anybody, just sayin' is all.

i'm not mister high maturity or anything, you can tell by how i make comments like "shart guards by depends" in the crackbery forums, but i don't like seeing all the mean stuff about the guys who literally built the platform we all love here at crackberry.

anyways, the new CEO is determined and will be an awesome new leader. this is a good move, i'm looking forward to a solid 2012 for RIM!!!



in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

With respect, I do have to disagree with you. While these two individuals may have built the platform we all love; they, at the very same time, have literally destroyed it over the past few years. They were ineffective and, quite frankly, incapable of keeping up with the demands of new technology, new customers, along with grasping the direction that consumers were going to.

They denied that people needed and wanted media on their phones. They mocked the iPhone has being unnecessary and continued to turn a blind eye to the rapid development of apps on that market along with failing to observe the fact that people were gravitating to that platform. They failed to reach out to developers. And as a stock owner, I've seen my shares reduced to laughable levels - all under the direction of these two people. And I've seen a company that was once much admired turned into a joke within the technology field.

So while I may agree with you that they are "not bad"; I will say "good riddance" - and I hope that this new individual will be able to turn around this company and restore it to its health that it once had.

<" Mr. Lazaridis said that he decided to move from Co-Chair to Vice Chair of the Board in order to return the public's focus to what is most important: "the great company we have built, its iconic products, global brand and its talented employees." >

Yea, lets hope this will shut them up, although I agree that all the CO-CEO noise was a bad disruption, I'm not sure it will shut them up....they will just find a something new to complain about...Just Wait & see

Eventually they will find something new but for now they can atleast focus in this. I wonder how many articles tomorrow are gonna start with the word "Finally"

this will be awesome for RIM, i'm glad to see who they chose to lead - they're solid


in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

Good decision, You have built a great company, now, allow someone to make it greater. You both have my respect. Thank you for revolutionizing the way we use mobile devices.


I have a lot of respect for them. They took RIM from nothing to the biggest tech company in Canada and a global leader (a rare occurrence for us - we're more a branch plant and resource-extraction nation than anything). That's not to say that they were infallible. They've made a lot of mistakes: misjudging market sentiment and what features were important, downplaying the iPhone, putting in place a poor organizational culture, etc. But deciding to let go of your baby is never easy, and I think it took a lot of courage to make the step. I'm glad they did it.

Yea but so did Microsoft & every other Major phone company @ the time so don't make it sound like they were the only ones.

Also, it's not the iPhone that's taking most of their customers, it's Android.

Hope jim and mike can find something to occupy there time I welcome this new change and hope that mr heins can lead Rim into another decade of dominance

I thought kevin is gonna. Be do new ceo? Change is good. I know rim will make this a Goodyear for everyone.

Hopefully a change in the guard will give RIM a shot in the arm! Please do not use this as an excuse to delay the 2.0 update!

So does this mean that Kevin & his Ham Sandwitch are no longer in the running to become CO-CEO's at RIM?

What about VP of Web Development?

Guys - this changes nothing!

Honestly, I suspect this is for optics only and that Jim and Mike will be the ones still running the show. In fact, I'll bet my Blackberry on that!

I think that was a good move. People all over the place were shooting at them and blaming them for everything that was going wrong at RIM. 2011 was RIM worst in terms of US marketshare. But they still did great things that we talk everyday about. Now, they freed themselves and they can go behind the scenes and do what they do best. Mike on technical stuff, which seems to be where he is going and Jim as an ambassador for RIM. They still control 10% of RIM, so they are not going anywhere.

Damn! Wish they waited till after I got my tax return check. . .lol. . .Stock will quickly shoot out of my range. . .lol

HA ! Breaking news on a Sunday night. Not only a Sunday night. But the night of the NFC & AFC championship. Good move to avoid being the number 1 news story in North America come Monday.

Mike and Jim did a Great job and like they said its time to pass the baton. This is a Huge move! Cant wait to see that stock go through the roof this week.

I am only for one thing. Better phones and more respect for RIM. If the change on the top will do it then this is great. Still these two guys at the end built great company so saying "finally", about time ,and bitch*ing at them showing no respect is just not fair imo.

I know that big ships turn real slowly, but this move was long overdue. Glad to see this type of cavacation behind the screws. (Go look it up)

Wow, wasnt expecting this! I actually have a lot of respect for Mike L. Jim B. -- I'll reserve judgement. First order of business -- Get that CMO position filled ASAP. Second order of business -- reclaim (pay for) the BBX name. Third order of business -- plug the hole that leads to the BGR "leaks" :D

Just curious. Why now? Does this foreshadow a bad earnings call next month? Interesting times ahead. Patiently waiting for OS2... and BB10 (BBX)

My first post here. Now I am really worried. Jim and Make were the face of the company. The new man is just another product of the corporate world. Yesterday in Siemens, today in BlackBerry, tomorrow in BP. The corporate world is full of these graduates from business schools, enthusiastic, polite, confident, smiling man without any substance. Not every company has "Steven Jobs"-s, but this one is looking very far from the inspirational figure Blackberry needs.

Lets hope this new person stil apprecites the Playbook and will not decide to cancel the project. It can be succesful if it was only managed better.

About time -- in honesty, they probably should've been ousted a year or two ago.

Remember, they're the ones who saw the iPhone (and later Android) and treated a touchscreen like a fad. People would flock back to non-touch phones with hardware keyboards any second... only they didn't. This past year just proved they don't cope with things *really* going South very well.

Seriously good news. With all the new stuff going on with RIM they need to break free from the past, and put it behind them. Very meaningful move.

"... Chief Operating Officer for Product and Sales in August 2011. "
So the guy who was in charge of the lackluster promotion and roll-out of BB7 devices is now in charge of the whole company?!?

Oh boy...God help 'em...

"... Chief Operating Officer for Product and Sales in August 2011. "
So the guy who was in charge of the lackluster promotion and roll-out of BB7 devices is now in charge of the whole company?!?

Oh boy...God help 'em...