When Kevin Michaluk, leader of the CrackBerry Nation (the undisputed largest online gathering of BlackBerry fans), coins the term “RIMAGEDDON,” it's pretty obvious the BlackBerry makers are in a rough spot. Being a long time fan, I have tried my best to maintain my faith in RIM. But with time, that is something that is becoming increasingly hard to do. Even with several acquisitions under their belt over the past year, their market share has plummeted, their devices have grown dormant and their somewhat highly anticipated tablet has come and gone with little buzz. Even key selling points – like BBM – have faded among stiff competition.

Starting almost two weeks ago with the Q1 2012 earnings report, consumers and investors alike have begun to question the company's future. Stephen Jarislowsky, CEO of RIM's sixth-largest investor Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., stated that RIM is, “... resting on their laurels.” Jarislowsky also admitted that they have given up on the Waterloo-based company and have since pulled their entire stake.

For some time now, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have shared the CEO title for RIM. A few years back, Jim Balsillie left the board of directors, but back in December, he returned and rejoined Lazaridis as co-chairman.

Quickly following the earnings report, one of RIM's investors, Northwest and Ethical Investments, proposed a shareholder vote that would split up RIM's unique co-CEO and co-chairman structure. The motion has gained quite a bit of attention and other investment firms are now following suit; Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has also called for the split-up. The shareholders vote will take place next month, where the two CEOs' fates will be determined.

RIM, in defense of its long-reigning CEOs, advised shareholders to vote against the motion. But based on feedback I've been reading around the web, the future of Balsillie and Lazaridis as co-CEOs of RIM seems rather bleak. A poll ran on CrackBerry.com, asking readers if they are for or against the CEO split-up, had rather unsurprising results. Over two thirds of the voters (5,116 at the time) are for the CEO breakup, leaving only 30 percent for those who are against it. Several RIM shareholders in the comments around the web have also stated that it's time for a change.

So I am left on the fence, trying to decide whether Lazaridis or Balsillie ... or both should be removed. Although the company has certainly shown promise over the past year with the acquisition of major names in the mobile world, little has actually come of the company's numerous purchases. Given more time, we may begin to see some improvements from the collaboration of the major players, but time is of the essence and it appears both Balsillie and Lazaridis fail to notice.

The two have split up roles pretty evenly and things are pretty clean-cut between them: Balsillie handles public relations while Lazaridis controls the actual technology itself. That said, two people equally in charge can undoubtedly lead to some altercations, and not to mention the outrageous and inefficient salaries of having two CEOs. Lest we forget that RIM began laying off workers as part of a streamlining program. Although I doubt removing them from their top positions will change their salary any noticeable amount, shaving pennies off of the top would be a lot more sound than plucking them from the foundation. But that's another story for another time, really.

I like both Balsillie and Lazaridis; they are the sole creators of the phones that turned me into a cell phone nut. And you can't deny the respect they have earned and deserve as CEOs. Together, they drove this company to the top. But denying that it is on its way back down would be foolish. With these two still in the driver's seat – not acknowledging the quickly changing market around them – they're purchasing a one-way ticket to a RIM takeover. Bringing in a fresh face with some up-to-date ideas is one of the more important moves this company needs to make ... and sooner rather than later.

There is one major concern though, as Kevin stated, "I typically view change as a good thing, but more change on top of a period of change/transition might be too much change." Regardless, it's a risk that RIM needs to take. Balsillie and Lazaridis can and should be proud of what they have done with RIM, but knowing when to call it quits and call in the reinforcements is vital. Their problem for many years now has been reluctance to change. If that reluctance continues for too much longer, there might no longer be a company to change.

So pups, should Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis remain co-CEOs of RIM, or should they be split up? Which one, if any, should remain in charge? And will it even matter? Is RIM dead regardless?

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32 Reactions to this post

"Should RIM's pair of CEOs be split up?"

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Anthony P. Schulz and the CEOS need to be canned.
Anthony P. Schulz it has nothing to do with weight or size. its the fact that blackberries feel like old crappy flip phones. slow and bare minimum, compared to the "Smartphones". it can do email and browse but how well? not well, RIM needs to tight up the ecosystem with apps and deploy QNX asap.
Wilberto Ortiz The new Blackbery pad looks interesting. perhaps that should be the next level , affordable as well.
Zach Cline Lmao. That isn't happening.
Todd Bradley This may be RIM's chance to overtake apple by being more innovative. Blackberry may have to do what Apple hasn't done, be a Leaf. :/ The Ipad still feels heavy. Get it Blackberry????? Hint hint!
Nic Kolas Secure* not safe...
Nic Kolas U haters are crazy do u realize how safe RIM is compare to iPhone and android phones? Unless apple and google can reach that level, which they are no where close, RIM won't die. I agree, RIM products are not "everyday user friendly", And they have to do something about it.
Sean Tomlinson @ Zach. 'Respect your comment (truthfully) I also (once again) agree with the lack of innovation in recent times. I worded I poorly perhaps and never intended to discredit android devices. ( I do respect android). I've just been frustrated with the constant bashing of the devices around the web recently when they've really shown some effort for the past 6 months and I applaud the things they're good at and ask that people adopt the appropriate wait and see attitude ONLY because of this recent effort. Thanx for the decency of your post (it's not typical). That being said, I think there's room for OS6 & 7.
Sam Soto Blackberry should change to a hardware only company and start making android devices if they want to stay afloat. Blackberries have been behind in hardware in the last few years. Also their OS is nothing to cheer about.
Zach Cline Just the fact that you called android devices a glass box for music videos just tells me that you've never owned or tried one. Blackberry might have been innovative in the 90'sbackground but android devices and the iphone destroy blackberry.
Sean Tomlinson To those of you that like to come to these forums to bash on blackberry... Perhaps a blackberry isn't for you. RIM is for someone who appreciates a phone for what a phone should be. It should have legendary battery life, excellent durability, excellent email and contact execution, (BBM is true innovation), excellent call quality and a fine keyboard. Not everyone wants a 4" glass box for music videos.
Anthony P. Schulz Wtf. Android isn't a company, its a product made by google. Just some clarification
Sean Tomlinson OS5 was garbage for the times, I agree. But they've come so far within 6 months. OS6 is great, only lacking a few tweaks. The specs and the OS will be great after the 9900. People need to stop hating. But the CEO's are out of touch. They don't listen to what the faithful want. They don't engage with their customers like apple and android do. But I'm there for the long haul. The products are great. The leadership is poor.
Tim Fuhrmann BlackBerry might not be number one anymore, but with all the companies RIM has been buying up lately, they won't be going anywhere for a long time. Hell, QNX(now owned by RIM) will possibly be the OS that will control a lunar rover.
Harrison Knill Who the hell wants a rim job anyways?
Karlton Sadang android shoud just buy out RIM and get them up to date with the times!!!!
Jan Michael Cruz yup it's not working anymore, RIM needs a major shakeup. I don't want to see them fold coz it's consumer loss
Arnulfo Aviña Torrés Rim is horrible. I would never care for their products!!
Mitch Lopez There shouldn't be leadership by committee when it cones to being CEO. Poor leadership, lack of vision and outdated devices have put them in tough spot to come back from.
Steve Flynn Sell the patents off to google or apple. They would pay millions for them.
Rene Orduna The inventor of black berry should be shot lol
Pat Burns The company needs to die out.
Femi Sasona I haven't any idea what the CEO's been doing up in Canada. I think they need some new blood at the Helm of RIM to continue to bring more innovation and new direction to the company. Bberry can be salvaged and be a force in the mobile industry. The current CEO's need to step down if they can't produce.
Freddy Spears Dominguez They should definitely get bought by android and merge BBM and cool stuff from blackberry and make android am even stronger Competitor against Apple. Then Android wont be able to get beat ;)
Jimmy Duong No they should just get fired and pay Steve jobs and Andy rubin to take over.
Hansel Starley They should quit and put some innovators in there.
Kate Yopp-Gilroy I used to love my blackberry- that was before iphone and Android phones came out. The BB is ok for email and typing activities, but accessing the internet is a nightmare- takes forever and then is hard to read, if it even works. So far, I still have a BB because I need an international phone and it is one of the few Sprint has.
Robert Centennial Someone should just beat them, and the people who still buy their crap phones
Joey Carranco Rim nd android need to merge! ! :D
Calvin JW And put all the business features that everyone likes Blackberry's for on Androids
Calvin JW Rim should make Android phones.
Kidd Hampton Negative

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