Who should Research In Motion get on their Board of Directors?

Barbara Stymiest and Thorsten Heins at the AGM
By Chris Umiastowski on 17 Aug 2012 02:51 pm EDT

Current Chairman Barbara Stymiest and CEO Thorsten Heins at the 2012 RIM AGM

Not too long ago, Kevin and I quarterbacked a very long article about Vic Alboini, and his crusade for change at Research In Motion. While we were not fans of his methods, nor do we necessarily understand his true motivations, we definitely agree that RIM's board of directors needs a shake up.

In short, RIM needs a board that can add more value for shareholders. Collectively, the current board doesn't have enough knowledge on the things that matter so much to RIM these days. This includes technology, software, and the rapid pace of change in the mobile industry.

At RIM's Annual General Meeting (AGM), many board members had a high percentage of votes withheld during board member re-election voting. The highest withholding ratio was just over 30%, which speaks volumes as to how many shareholders do not approve of the current board.

RIM's chair, Barbara Stymiest, has also publicly said they're looking to expand the board with new blood. But they didn't say they want new board members to replace old ones, which is what we believe should happen. Out with the old, in with the (better, smarter) new.

But the magic question is "who?"

In the past, CrackBerry suggested bringing on a guy like Jon Rubinstein (the former CEO of Palm who also worked at Apple) to lead BlackBerry USA. But if that isn't going to happen, what about bringing Rubi onto the board of directors?

How about Jeff Bezos, the rock star CEO of Amazon.com? They can't get him (because he's already on Apple's board), but Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, would make a great addition. How about Niklas Zennström, the well known Swedish founder of Skype, and before that, Kazaa. Talk about a proven entrepreneur and business man who understand where the market is heading!

I'll also suggest that RIM doesn't actually need rock star directors either. Heck, it would be a big improvement just to bring in people who are NOT so well known, but who really understand the industry. There are plenty of quality executives and company founders who have done business with RIM throughout the last decade, and who can bring more value to the table than RIM's current slate of board members.

What RIM shareholders need is a board that understands how to ask the tough questions, analyze the right metrics and push for the tough decisions. Beyond that, any rock star names on the board would also bring powerful relationships on which rely for added leverage when it comes to partnerships and other business deals.

Let's turn this discussion over to CrackBerry Nation. Who do you think would make a good board member? If you're going to vote for Kevin, we need to at least push him to cut his hair, right? ;)

Being totally serious ... who do you want to see join RIM's board? Sound off in the comments.

Reader comments

Who should Research In Motion get on their Board of Directors?


HorizonXP, you're from taab? Hey! Great work you're doing! Looking forward to using your apps on my soon-to-have BB10 devices!

The article said too be honest. I'll try. How about Kim Kardashian. She makes money and seems to be a good business woman. I don't care for her however from a pure business stand point she is bright and makes cash. She is a big BB fan and believes in the product. She is a very influencial person that would bring best business practices to a generation of folks that do not use BB. In closing...What banker would say no to her?

Well, we expect the new CMO is that person, but you have a valid point.

I'd like to nominate Chris Umiastowski and Kevin Michaluk. At least this way we'd know for sure that the board would get what we want.

Crackberry Kevin, obviously. He's been doing more for RIM than RIM has throughout the years that he's been working for them.

Mark Zuckerberg...young entrepreneur who understands the psychology of selling and creating products that the masses want to use. Would provide great insight and youth into the board!!! (also may influence a nice instagram app for BB10? lol)

Zucherberg hahaha!.. are you paying attention to what's happening with facebook? you u know why? because there's no innovation. facebook sucks because they stopped thinking beyond it's original inception. Twitter came along and ripped the best part of facebook. now pinterest is gaining speed which was other best part of facebook. The fb is a bulletin board now. But that's what emails for. so u see there's very little use for facebook and they let others take the best parts of it because they didn't know what to do with it after it got popular. worse they began limiting it by putting restrictions on it, ect, ect, ect... since then it's been dying.

my point is, zuckerburg has no concept of organic technology which what social media is. the reason facebook got big is because that's what everyone wanted but it doesn't make it good and that's why facebook isn't. people wanna communicate. interact. this is the 1 thing Zuckerberg doesn't either understand or know how to do, and that's why twitter is so successful. It's also why the fb is dead rez at this point.

you don't wanna kill a platform before it's even born from someone who has no idea about what people what. so ur assertion of zuckerberg is wrong because he killed facebook simply because he didn't know how to evolve it. He knows very little about people and a lot about products and that's why he should go work for microsoft.

I agree with most of your points. Businesses need to and should evolve but FB seems to have evolved into a giant advertising billboard. Although he's CEO, Zucks isn't steering the ship. FB has lost its identity.

Apples Head Of Marketing


Any other creative user with an imagination who wants to see BB continue to exist.

The blacker the berry the sweeter the use...

HorizonXP sounds like a good choice, as does the guy who founded TAT, Chris's suggestions are good, and they could do worse than getting the top BlackBerry bloggers.
Another idea : someone who is a leader and innovator in customer service...

Is it a coincidence that this article and the Winter Ave Zoli interview are both up on the same day? Who can say? Get her on the board!

If shareholders are not happy with the board why not present an alternate slate of directors at the agm? Also i believe research has been done showing there is almost no correlation between corporatw governance practices and company peformance.

I was thinking Ed WHitaker, Former CEO and Chair of General Motors. Help bridge the gap to get further intergated into cars is the way to go....


As far as someone who understands technology and is genuinely interested in advancing it, there's no one better than Steve wozniak.

The drinking is probably a good sign - if you have that much money and don't drink, you're probably a psychopath.
I don't understand some people talking about respect for others' opinions...

I'm pretty sure if chuck Norris was on board none of this would have happened. Neither the foolish war the u.s funding.

How about former CEO for HP Leo Apotheker .. he made almost $10 millions for screwing HP.. the present boys could learn a lot from him on how to rip off shareholders, employees, etc...

Better not give it to Romney. He'll shake it up, break it down into pieces, and make a quick few million claiming he helped the economy while doing it.

My only dig against the man is that he's obviously forgotten his roots. They're not planning a BB10 or BBOS client for Pebble. Very disappointing.

Abolish the board of directors and replace them with Crackberry Kevin and Chris Umiatowski. They can have cool titles like Vice Overlords of Bolditude of research in motion.

Lmfao. I literally lmao at the last couple of comments. Hamburglar may be found not guilty by reason of mental defect.

Strategic Board development is very important... Not only should RIM have the "heavy hitters" like company CEOs, lawyers, CFOs, big firm developers, etc... they need to have some grassroot end-users who "think like consumers" and other lesser thought about areas. A board that wants to expand, as Stymiest puts it, is one that needs to find the diamonds in the rough.

For example, Kevin has his finger on the consumer/enterprise/blogger vein as founder of CrackBerry.... This is a sector that I believe is sorely missing from RIM's BOD.

This is an area I tend to harp on - Accessibility features (roll eyes at will) - But I have served on several Boards and Councils as an Accessibility Consultant. This is important why, not because the majority needs these features. They need someone like this because of the path that RIM is choosing for BlackBerry. BB for Life. People are born with disabilities, age into disability... RIM does not want to lose customers because they can't meet those needs effectively. Having a specialist in this field would show the dedication on RIM to supporting the broadest possible user-base.

Little known fact, 1 in 5 individuals (20%) of the US population have some sort of disability. That is 20% that RIM is not properly serving. That 20% largley flows to Apple products due to their commitment to and implementation of key accessibility features.

So... yeah... grassroots BOD members.


Mr.T and Chuck Norris



Not too sure if he'd be willing, but if they'd be able to get Warren Buffet on there that would be great. I guess that would mean that he would have had to become a major shareholder, but hey.. I think that"s a win win :)

Somebody from the teachers pension plan or CPP investment boards after they buy a billion in 4% preferred shares! And somebody with deep current connections in tech that may be a major partner like say someone from IBM?. Or Chambers from Cisco (don't their routers run on QNX ? And don't embedded systems and networks kinda go together?)
Pie in the sky perhaps, but hey, why not?

Phil Nickerson and Rene Richie ....kidding kidding ... Lol

as much as I am tempted to agree with the masses and recommend Kevin and Umie I don't think that would work well as it would place them in the situation of having to skate a thin line to avoid conflicts of interest and avoiding accidentally revealing confidential information.

Jack Egan from EMC when they were known as one of the top managed companies on the planet and Jack Egan out sold IBM and crushed them with a company that his father started in their garage only few years before. I think
Egan is in the background of and at the start of VMware among other stuff.

Everyone except Prem Watsa should be gone. They don't need a "rockstar" board of directors. They just need members who will actually look out for the company instead of collecting their pay while the (co)CEOs fritter away the company.

Seriously, read up on Kevin's actual business experience and you'll change your tune. He ran a company that sold cheap garbage software to people too stupid to know better including Mattel who bought his company for 3.6B and sold it for 430M.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??!! Why are you still here then? Fly, be free!
From my Neutrino powered Playbook

I nominate Sarah Palin, because she can see Russia from her house.

In all seriousness, how about a strategic placement, a top brass from one of the companies interested in RIM. That actually makes sense, like a higher-up from Microsoft/Amazon/IBM

this article made it seem to me like your saying the board of directors gets to choose to expand the board of directors and pick who they want to joing it, im assuming that rim had a competent attorney that wrote up their by laws for their corporation, if so, it is not up to the board of directors to expand the board, it will usually require a shareholder vote, and then the board of directors doesnt get to chose who the new director will be, unless it is for the interim, and then at the next annual shareholders meeting, the shareholders would vote a new director in

I wouldn't know who to nominate...
Maybe some really good, great honest CEO's who use blackberry smartphones/tablets both for personal and business uses, who aren't brainwashed by the media AND who honestly care about consumers like me? :)