Will RIM Get Rid of Co-CEOs for a Single Leader?

Lora Bentley

2011 wasn't the best year for Blackberry maker Research In Motion. So it wasn't much of a surprise when news broke earlier that the company's board of directors was at least considering asking co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie to surrender their seats as co-chairmen. The co-CEO/co-chair positions have been under scrutiny since at least July, according to thestar.com, when the company "avoided an investor vote" to separate the roles by creating a committee to review the structure and its effectiveness.


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Now, however, the board may be forced to take action. The report from that committee's study is due at the end of the month, and Mobiledia reports both CEOs will likely be ousted. Writer Lorien Crow explains:

Critics say both men were slow to respond to pressing situations like lackluster sales of the PlayBook tablet, employee layoffs, plummeting market share, and a massive four-day service outage in October. In addition technical issues resulted in repeated delays for the Blackberry 10 release and left the company without any new features or hardware to compete against Apple and Google's Android.

Some observers say the board itself is just as much to blame. After all, it's the board's responsibility to make sure that the shareholder's best interests are protected. Given the gravity of RIM's position, the board did not act swiftly enough. InformationWeek's Eric Zeman doesn't mince words:

Boards are typically in charge of hiring/firing CEOs. Lazaridis and Balsillie have managed RIM straight into the ground ... If RIM's board doesn't also seek to replace the co-CEOs with a single new leader, they aren't acting in the best interests of RIM's investors. That makes them just as culpable for RIM's performance as Lazaridis and Balsillie, in my book.

He couldn't have said it better.

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