Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie resign in shake-up at Blackberry-maker RIM

Mike Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984, told a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Waterloo, Canada that "there comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership.”

LONDON, UK – Blackberry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that its joint chairmen and chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have resigned as part of a shake-up at the struggling Canadian company.

Mr Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984, will continue to be active in the company as vice-chairman and head of a new board committee focused on innovation, the Financial Times reported.

Mr Balsillie will remain a director and continue to sit on RIM’s board, but will no longer have an operational role.

Both men will be replaced immediately by chief executive Thorsten Heins, a 54-year-old German, who joined RIM four years ago from Siemens AG, according to Bloomberg. Director Barbara Stymiest will take over as chairman.

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The shake-up comes after investors called for a strategy change over Balsillie’s and Lazaridis’s seeming inability to keep pace with competitors Apple and Google, who have been making substantial gains in the mobile-computing market, the BBC reported.

Speaking after the announcement, Lazaridis said he recognized things needed to change at RIM.

“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” he told a press conference at RIM’s headquarters in Waterloo, Canada.

“Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.”

RIM’s Blackberry smartphone has seen a number of major setbacks in recent months. It suffered its worst service outage last year and its market share has been falling to competitors in the smartphone markets.

The value of RIM’s shares has declined by more than three-quarters in less than two years, the Financial Times reports.

However, markets responded cooly to a comment made by new CEO Heins during a conference call with investors this morning. Having rallied by as much as 7.6 percent in early trading prior to Heins’ call, RIM fell 6.2% to $15.95 as of 9.42am EST after he told investors that “no drastic change” was needed at the company.

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