In a surprise move made Sunday night, RIM announced co-CEOs Mike Lazardis and Jim Balsillie would step down, effective immediately, as co-CEOs.
On Monday morning, The pair will be replaced by Thorsten Heins, who joined RIM in 2007 and was Chief Operating Officer, Product Engineering. Heins was in charge of the BlackBerry smartphone portfolio world-wide.
Before joining RIM in 2007, Thorsten held several positions in the wireless arena including the Chief Technology Officer of Siemens’ Communications Division and several general management positions in Hardware and Software businesses. Heins was at Siemens for more than two decades.
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The New York Times reports that in an interview Sunday, Heins was unconvinced that RIM had become a failure. “We are still very, very convinced that this was the right path to go,” he said. “Now, were there bumps in the road? Sure, but with the kind of growth we had it is not uncommon to hit bumps in the road.”
“Jim and Mike’s strategy of not sacrificing long-term value for short-term gain is the right one,” he added. “I share that value.”
RIM’s Mike Lazaridis will remain as Vice-Chairman and Jim Balsillie will stay on as a director of the Waterloo mobile pioneer. A third RIM board member, Barbara Stymiest, will become chairperson. Late Sunday, The Globe and Mail reported that Prem Watsa, the respected CEO of Fairfax Financial, was the catalyst for the change. Watsa had been purchasing shares of RIM and has been named to its board.
Heins has a master’s degree in Science and Physics from the University of Hannover in Germany. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Heins was born in Gifhorn, Germany in 1957.
Here’s the video RIM just released announcing Heins as CEO: