03-31-13 09:33 PM
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  1. bluetroll's Avatar
    Here's a nice article that was published by the National Post today.

    http://www.financialpost.com/m/wp/ex...ind-blackberry

    Mike revolutionized the mobile communications industry and is widely recognized as one of Canada?s greatest innovator

    There is much to be admired about a graceful exit; timing and tone make all the difference, especially in retrospect. That aphorism will inevitably define the legacies of Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the BlackBerry smartphone pioneers whose invention spawned a generation of users, including the Queen of England and the President of the United States, who couldn?t imagine life without portable wireless communication.

    After almost 30 years, a Canadian corporate fairy tale is officially coming to a close. Mike Lazaridis announced March 28 that he was ?retiring? from the company he co-founded with childhood friend Doug Fregin in 1984. The 52-year-old?s exit follows that of Balsillie, who decamped the struggling smartphone maker a year ago. Lazaridis? departure is the punctuation mark on the end of a corporate era in Canada that began in recent years with the agonizingly slow decline of the former Canadian tech darling. These days, BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion Ltd., is a smaller vessel forged from a drastic management shakeup and corporate reboot that has transformed the company into a niche player with a new name, a new product and a new public face in chief executive Thorsten Heins.

    Mike sees things that nobody else does. He?s an integrator; there is some intuitive feel

    As long-time partners, Lazaridis and Balsillie were Canada?s corporate odd couple; one a publicity-shy wallflower, the other a social gadfly. On paper, their personalities should never have meshed, but in practice the duo made for ?a very tenacious team,? a former Rogers Communications Inc. executive told a company biographer. Balsillie played the bad cop to Lazaridis? good guy and for 30 years, the duo drove RIM from a local startup in Waterloo, Ont. to a major global player on the success of the iconic BlackBerry wireless device. At its height, 85% of public companies in North America equipped staff with the devices. By 2007, RIM had become the most valuable public company in Canada and two years later, influential U.S. business magazine Fortune named it among the top 100 growing companies on the planet.

    Along the way, Lazaridis and Balsillie became billionaires and celebrated national folk heroes admired for their humility, their business acumen and patriotism. During an era when billionaires ostentatiously lavished themselves with private jets, a stable of homes and lived scandalous private lives, the BlackBerry executives spent hundreds of millions of their own money on philanthropy, lived in modest bungalows and raised young families. In so many ways, they were quintessentially Canadian.

    The two-man startup was born in 1984, ironically the same year Steve Jobs and Apple unveiled the first Macintosh computer. Back then, Lazaridis was a 23-year-old who dropped out of university two months shy of an engineering degree. Fascinated by physics and wireless data technology, the native of Istanbul who emigrated to Windsor, Ont. with his family in 1966, Lazaridis had big ideas but little business sophistication. An innovator at heart, Lazaridis was a dreamer, a ?modern Leonardo da Vinci,? a former Microsoft executive told a company biographer. ?Mike sees things that nobody else does. He?s an integrator; there is some intuitive feel,? added a former Rogers executive.

    A rabid fan of Star Trek and its futuristic gadgets, Lazaridis sold a buzzer system he?d developed for the high school quiz show Reach for the Top in 1979 to pay for his first year tuition at the University of Waterloo. Five years later, he and Fregin started RIM, followed eight years later with the arrival of Balsillie. Over the next decade, Balsillie, an accountant by training and Harvard MBA, became the fledgling enterprise?s front man who raised money to fund the research and development. ?Mike?s the visionary, I?m the parrot,? Balsillie told a company biographer. ?I communicate the things he dreams up. My job is to get the money, Mike?s job is to spend it.?

    The rest as they say, is history. The torch has been transferred to 55-year-old Thorsten Heins, hand-picked by Lazaridis and Balsillie to replace them last year. After 15 months as vice-chair, Lazaridis fulfilled his commitment to finally bring the company?s new generation BB10 smartphones to market, a feat he and Balsillie struggled to accomplish with devastating consequences for the company?s employees, shareholders and consumers. On May 1, Lazaridis will walk away from any involvement in BlackBerry, except as the single largest individual shareholder with 5.7% of the shares. He plans to focus his attention on Quantum Valley Investment, a fund he set up with Fregin earlier this month to provide financial and intellectual capital to transform technological ideas into commercially viable products and services

    ?Mike revolutionized the mobile communications industry and is widely recognized as one of Canada?s greatest innovators,? said Heins during an analyst call on March 28. ?He?s played a pivotal role in the last 15 months with the launch of BlackBerry 10.?

    Balsillie did not. A year earlier, the hard-driving workaholic with the dominating presence, who joined RIM in 1992 after investing $250,000 of his own money by remortgaging his house, disappeared quietly. A shareholder revolt in 2011 forced him and Lazaridis out as co-chief executives in January, 2012. Two months later, Balsillie severed his ties completely by resigning from the board of directors in March, 2012, and liquidated all of his substantial 5.1% ownership stake within 12 months of his exit.

    Perhaps, the departures underscored how out of synch the pair had become ? and likely how each will be remembered. Even as they struggled amid industry criticism of arrogance and poor product launches (namely the PlayBook tablet which was eviscerated in the market), Lazaridis and Balsillie were indulged by a board of directors stubbornly invested in the founders. A deep well of public goodwill allowed the duo to make mistakes that were forgiven as well meaning and well intentioned even though it was clear they couldn?t seem to keep up, let alone stay ahead, of the new smartphone competitors who were hacking off BlackBerry?s once dominant market share.

    In the end, the missteps proved costly. As the global giant faltered, the BlackBerry brand was debased so much, it became synonymous with failure. The wireless devices, once so wildly popular and addictive, fell out of favour and were replaced with iPhones and Android devices. Lazaridis and Balsillie insisted the new BB10 operating system would reverse RIM?s fortunes. Investors, analysts and consumers didn?t believe them. Mammoth investor losses, a crippling service outage and an unprecedented slashing of thousands of jobs, transformed the company into an empty vessel of broken promises. BlackBerry, which once commanded 20% of the global market, is now desperately clutching to about 5%.

    Ultimately, shareholders lost confidence in the two co-founders? abilities to translate the software into its hardware. Still financially and emotionally committed, Lazaridis stayed on to help rewrite a new corporate narrative for a company that floundered badly on his watch. The touchscreen Z10, unveiled in February to high praise, and the Q10, due out in April, are the long-awaited progeny of the company?s new BB10 operating system, modelled and built on the QNX software. Their tardy arrival suggests the problem was execution, not so much innovation.

    That was enough reason for the silver-haired engineer, lauded as the ?genius? behind one of the most iconic brands of the last half century, to leave gracefully on his own terms.



    Posted via CB10
    jasperlin, zyben, simu31 and 3 others like this.
    03-30-13 07:47 AM
  2. iseeblackberry's Avatar
    I will always be thankful to Mike for how he changed my life
    03-30-13 07:59 AM
  3. stots's Avatar
    Way to put that up sir. Mike has been amazing for my home area of Kitchener- Waterloo. Mike just wants to keep on giving.

    http://www.therecord.com/news/busine...antum-research

    Thanks Mike

    BlackBerry Z10-Go Leafs Go
    03-30-13 08:07 AM
  4. timmy t's Avatar
    Mike is the one that let the OS fall behind and missed the touchscreen and apps trend.
    He may have done great things but he messed up big time too.
    richardat likes this.
    03-30-13 10:15 AM
  5. bluetroll's Avatar
    Mike is the one that let the OS fall behind and missed the touchscreen and apps trend.
    He may have done great things but he messed up big time too.
    haters gotta hate.

    why do you have to turn this into a negative post?

    he's a great person, gives back to the community. they kept the business in waterloo when they could've easily packed up gone to california and made big bucks there. but they choose to stay in Canada. good on those guys.
    peter9477 and Supa_Fly1 like this.
    03-30-13 11:52 AM
  6. greatwiseone's Avatar
    Mike L did lots to build the company, and I totally have respect for him. What happened to RIM was a combination of many things (and Mike has to bear some of the responsibility), but Mike L is leaving the company in a good way (unlike Jim). In any event, happy to see no one from the old guard left and everyone can look towards what blackberry can do.

    Posted via CB10
    03-30-13 02:36 PM
  7. richardat's Avatar
    Mike is the one that let the OS fall behind and missed the touchscreen and apps trend.
    He may have done great things but he messed up big time too.
    True. Realistically, he had the vision to set-up a push email system when it was desperately needed, and for that he made truckloads of money and earned a place in mobile history. Beyond that, it's a mixed bag. He did sit still, and dismiss the innovations of competitors for all to long. His hubris (and Jim's) may well have killed BB. Before canonizing the man, it should be noted he sold many 2nd rate products to many people - many on this forum. He made promises to consumers that weren't kept.

    He can go off with all the money those consumers paid, and live in a mansion, donate to charities - paint himself a Gatesian philanthropist, and let memories of only the positive remain in the public psyche. I'd say he was more than appropriately rewarded.

    Is it a "graceful" exit? I don't think so. Perhaps "well-managed" is the best I could say. He was forced out of the company he founded, after driving it to tatters....what he left, is....in a tenuous position at best. He rose big; he fell big. Now it is over.

    The first BB phones are iconic, and will always have a place in the tech museum. They brought smartphones to the mainstream. The man? Well, he's just a man.
    03-30-13 02:57 PM
  8. SK122387's Avatar
    The Z10 was my 14th BlackBerry device I've bought, 15th if you include the PlayBook.

    That means that Mike oversaw 13 or 14 of the devices I have happily and fanatically owned over the last few years. The rabid legion of fans that much of the media points to as the main buyers of BlackBerry10 are ALL fans because of the devices Mike and Jim brought to market in the past. That can't be overlooked and I'll be forever grateful for what they created.
    03-30-13 04:24 PM
  9. anon(3896606)'s Avatar
    GREAT article, thanks for posting.
    03-30-13 07:21 PM
  10. peter9477's Avatar
    He was forced out of the company he founded....
    That doesn't seem to be true. He stated publicly the other day that the board asked him to stay on a year ago. He's stated before that he basically hand-picked Heins, and arranged for his own replacement, and his "demotion". You might say he saw himself forced to take that action, but that's probably the extent of the "forcing out" that was involved.
    03-30-13 08:09 PM
  11. richardat's Avatar
    That doesn't seem to be true. He stated publicly the other day that the board asked him to stay on a year ago. He's stated before that he basically hand-picked Heins, and arranged for his own replacement, and his "demotion". You might say he saw himself forced to take that action, but that's probably the extent of the "forcing out" that was involved.
    LOL. It's the opposite, despite your semantic games, the blunt truth is: he had to go. I think if we are all completely honest, we know that he was forced out. If RIM had been flying high, he and Jim would still be at the top. The terrible results forced him out, if he had tried to stay, eventually (and quite soon) the board and the investors would have tried to force him out. Although sure, he could have made a stand and ripped the company apart from the inside. If any of you do a terrible job at your company, and people aren't happy with you, and you know you're expected to resign, when you do, can you claim "nobody forced me out!" LOL. Honestly, I cannot believe somebody would truly try to contend this. It may not sound pleasing to you, and it may not be diplomatic, but that is the truth.
    03-30-13 08:30 PM
  12. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    Y'all don't think he left out of the goodness of his heart? C'mon... LOL.

    Look, I admire the guy. He's on my Top Ten list of people I'd like to interview. As much as I think he made mistakes, who doesn't? I've never run a multi-billion dollar business. Yet.

    But no, he was not asked to stay on. That's ludicrous, but I don't begrudge the need for him to say that.
    RubberChicken76 and richardat like this.
    03-30-13 08:37 PM
  13. Shanerredflag's Avatar
    So...here is the truth of the matter. He built a worldwide brand, innovated some tech into what can arguably be described as ground breaking, became fabulously wealthy, employed and supported thousands and thousands of people with above average income jobs, tried to digest all this while the tech onslaught overtook his company, had the foresight to look beyond the current paradigm (three years ago) and bought assets to "fix" his companies innovation problems....hire and place TH in charge AND hold his shares which protects his baby from even greater harm from the short dog hate mongers that don’t care about anything or anyone other than the bottom line. (sorry for the run on sentence)
    Yet some that have done none of this find it “helpful” to point at the negative. That is fine, it comes with wealth and personal recognition, ‘par” for the course as it were.
    Here is the thing…those that have never built anything, taken a chance or felt the pressure of folks relying on your decisions to keep them employed and providing a standard of living so they can raise their families with “all the good stuff” should not chastise those that have! You really don’t have any idea the pressure or the sacrifice it takes. Perhaps a quite thank you for helping the economy would be a bit more appropriate…just my thoughts.
    Masahiro likes this.
    03-30-13 08:59 PM
  14. richardat's Avatar
    Y'all don't think he left out of the goodness of his heart? C'mon... LOL.

    Look, I admire the guy. He's on my Top Ten list of people I'd like to interview. As much as I think he made mistakes, who doesn't? I've never run a multi-billion dollar business. Yet.

    But no, he was not asked to stay on. That's ludicrous, but I don't begrudge the need for him to say that.
    All true. He is just a man, but undoubtedly a man with many interesting inside stories to tell. As to being asked to stay on, I absolutely can believe that but only to aid in the transition, and the PR. If they both did a Balsillie, it would have looked much more negatively dramatic! Not that I blame Jim for that either....he had every right to just walkaway completely overnight. I would guess he and Mike even talked about it, and he probably felt more free to do so, since Mike was staying on the board for a while.

    PS. He also built the company out of the 'goodness of his heart". There are people in this world who do things for completely altruistic reasons - of course, one could argue that there is no altruism, that it is ultimately also self-serving - but that is several levels of depth below our dicussions. There are even "businesspeople" who try to run non-profit businesses, seemingly with the goal of improving society. RIM wasn't one of them....neither is Apple...neither is MS......neither is Google. I realize it's human nature for fans of BB to want to personalize RIM.....to believe that RIM (whatever RIM or BB "is" in their mind) cares as much about them as they do about RIM. To idolize those within it, to attribute very noble and wonderful things to the company (and evil to their competitors). The clue is: "BUSINESS" and "CORPORATION". They didn't gift you these phones...you BOUGHT them. That was YOUR money.

    As I said, RIM and Mike earned an iconic place in tech history, and they did have an impact on society with their product. However, even though it's human nature to do so, let the more thoughtful among us not turn this into a fairy tale, or grant Mike sainthood. Should the idea of Mike be more important that the reality? In it's own strange way, this is also an insult to the man. It is the worship of a fantasy....instead of appreciating the businessman as the person he was, faults and all.
    Last edited by richardat; 03-30-13 at 09:16 PM.
    03-30-13 09:03 PM
  15. peter9477's Avatar
    I always love to see people who have detailed and accurate inside knowledge of things like this. Thanks for sharing your certainty with us, gents...

    Posted via CB10
    03-30-13 09:12 PM
  16. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    I always love to see people who have detailed and accurate inside knowledge of things like this. Thanks for sharing your certainty with us, gents...

    Posted via CB10
    Okay. We can go with the theory he fought to leave. Doesn't seem plausible in the least, and that is not general corporate practice in my experience, but it doesn't really matter.

    Both parties seem happy with his "refusal" to stay on, and that's all that really matters.
    03-30-13 09:19 PM
  17. Enyigma's Avatar
    I suppose you have to live here (Waterloo, ON, CA) to fully appreciate the extent of altruistic endeavours from Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis.

    TH does not strike me as a man to say one thing and mean another. He has often showed publicly his appreciation of the input and insight ML has given him and BB in general. I have no doubt ML was asked to stay on a little longer to help guide BB through the darkest days.

    ML has decided after 30 years in the business that it is time to move on to new ventures, ones for which he has already generously donated startup funds. It is a natural evolution in the aspirations of a man who is now focusing his attentions on the possibilities of quantum computing and doing so while he is still young enough to make a meaningful contribution. Quantum computing is an exciting and very promising field and I wish ML well in his new endeavour.

    For those who are interested, another good article on ML was published on page 1 of the local paper today: http://www.therecord.com/news/busine...-ceo-last-year
    Last edited by Enyigma; 03-30-13 at 09:41 PM.
    Shanerredflag and richardat like this.
    03-30-13 09:29 PM
  18. peter9477's Avatar
    I can only note that I was reporting on information I've seen reported in the press, in response to what appears to be speculation. If you don't believe the information that's your right, of course. I won't try to change your faith...

    Posted via CB10
    03-30-13 09:31 PM
  19. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    I suppose you have to live here (Waterloo, ON, CA) to fully appreciate the extent of altruistic endeavous from Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis.

    TH does not strike me as a man to say one thing and mean another. He has often showed publicly his appreciation of the input and insight ML has given him and BB in general. I have no doubt ML was asked to stay on a little longer to help guide BB through the darkest days.

    ML has decided after 30 years in the business that t is time to move on to new ventures, ones for which he has already generously donated startup funds. It is a natural evolution in he aspirations of a man who is now focusing his attentions on the possibilities of quantum computing and doing so while he is still young enough to make a meaningful contribution. Quantum computing is an exciting and very promising field and I wish ML well in his new endeavour.
    To be fair, I've heard that he is one of the "true" philanthropists out there: a guy who truly cares about humanity. When I say I admire him, I truly do.

    I also believe he'd do much to see BBRY survive.
    03-30-13 09:32 PM
  20. Supa_Fly1's Avatar
    Mike L did lots to build the company, and I totally have respect for him. What happened to RIM was a combination of many things (and Mike has to bear some of the responsibility), but Mike L is leaving the company in a good way (unlike Jim). In any event, happy to see no one from the old guard left and everyone can look towards what blackberry can do.

    Posted via CB10
    I'm actually NOT happy that nobody from the old guard - a VERY odd term to use for a company btw - is left.

    Finances: HUGE financing can be done by Mike L
    He's worth a hellofalot more than $2 Billion.
    Guidance and technical expertise - he's still very knowledgeable and has immense wealth of knowledge to help the company grow even further like no other. Thorstein is a great CEO/Manager but for direction I'll bet when the times get really tough and there is no cash and loans are made and riding near expiry he'd sell BB fast and quick! I loath managers with no technical background in a tech industry.
    GLUE! Mike is the core glue of why BlackBerry purchased QNX and kept their CEO and founders focused all the way through. We all saw that team excitement some 2yrs ago showing off the PlayBook! Now that he's gone ... who's to say termoil within BlackBerry and QNX will not potentially develop ... if that happens we all can kiss BlackBerry as we know it goodbye.

    Time to fully read this article and I hope Mike L will still keep some stock for the foreseeable future; as a sign of confidence, faith, nostalgia within the company he's built! Godspeed Mike L.
    03-31-13 04:06 AM
  21. Supa_Fly1's Avatar
    To be fair, I've heard that he is one of the "true" philanthropists out there: a guy who truly cares about humanity. When I say I admire him, I truly do.

    I also believe he'd do much to see BBRY survive.
    Indeed!!

    PS: its BB in Canada, BBRY in the USA ... since its a Canadian topic we should keep it all in the fam. BB
    03-31-13 04:07 AM
  22. Masahiro's Avatar
    Thorstein is a great CEO/Manager but for direction I'll bet when the times get really tough and there is no cash and loans are made and riding near expiry he'd sell BB fast and quick! I loath managers with no technical background in a tech industry.
    Come on now. I don't see what the justification is to be so harsh on Thorsten Heins, just because he wasn't trained as an electrical engineer in particular (he has a master's degree in science and physics).
    03-31-13 04:42 AM
  23. Shanerredflag's Avatar
    Come on now. I don't see what the justification is to be so harsh on Thorsten Heins, just because he wasn't trained as an electrical engineer in particular (he has a master's degree in science and physics).
    Come on now...this thread has been turned into a hate monger regugetation for the left of left crowd.
    You know...the people who create nothing, develop nothing, employ no one but have an unexperienced opinion on everyone and everything because after all...they are "more thoughtfull" than the average person.
    Don't disagree...you'll be branded a hero worshipper.

    Posted via CB10
    03-31-13 07:47 AM
  24. RubberChicken76's Avatar
    Meh. Maybe Mike should have stepped down as CEO two years earlier, but I am glad he stayed to see BlackBerry 10 to market. It is his baby. And yeah, he made mistakes and yeah he had trouble executing but no one can diminish his role as a tech icon in the world stage. There are warts but many, many roses.

    And the philanthropy is something I always heavily admired about BlackBerry, Mike and Jim. Same with Bill Gates.

    CHYM 96.7 - Appreciation Motion for Research In Motion. - YouTube
    peter9477 likes this.
    03-31-13 07:47 AM
  25. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    Come on now. I don't see what the justification is to be so harsh on Thorsten Heins, just because he wasn't trained as an electrical engineer in particular (he has a master's degree in science and physics).
    I mostly agree.
    03-31-13 08:01 AM
28 12

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