Lazaridis and Balsillie resign as RIM co-CEOs and co-chairmen

Research In MotionA corporate shuffle at Research In Motion had been widely expected. It finally happened tonight as the company announced that Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have resigned as co-CEOs and co-chairmen. Thorsten Heins, one of the two company chief operating officers, will take on the President and CEO role effective immediately. As rumoured, director Barbara Stymiest has been named independent Board Chair.

Lazaridis, Balsillie and Stymiest all indicated that the decision was taken by the former two not because of outside pressures but because it was the right time. “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,” said Balsillie.

For his part, Heins said that “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. 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.”

Balsillie and Lazaridis will remain company directors and significant shareholders in the company that they built up. Balsillie has also been named Vice Chair of RIM’s Board and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee.

Read more: Research In Motion and Bloomberg