updated 06:55 am EST, Tue January 24, 2012
Heins faces investor backlash for status quo angle
Following RIM's the rise of Thorsten Heins to rank of CEO of the troubled maker of BlackBerry smartphones and mobile devices, sentinment from observers was tempered. However, early comments by Heins suggesting that drastic change is not necessary have been seized upon by disgruntled investors who believe they signal a quick demise for new head of the company. While pleased that former co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie had stepped aside, thus removing a potential barrier to the possible sale of the company, not all investors are satisfied that the move is enough to save the embattled Canadian handset maker.
Since his elevation, Heins has gone on record saying, "I don't think that there is some drastic change needed. We are evolving ... but this is not a seismic change." While the comments may have been designed to maintain some semblance of stability and continuity, they may have unintentionally backfired.
"If Thorsten really believes that there are no changes to be made, he will be gone within 15 to 18 months. He will be a transitional CEO and this will be a transitional board," said Jaguar Financial Corp. CEO Victor Alboini.
Alboini heads an informal, but influential group of 16 RIM shareholders who want a radical restructure of the company, which has recently had been lurching from one setback to another while watching its market share and stock value slump. At its peak, RIM's market cap was $80 billion. Currently, the value of its stock puts in at a paltry $8 billion by comparison. Given such a gloomy scenario it would seem reasonable that investors have good reason to be concerned, particularly if Heins maintains or simply tweaks RIM's current strategy.
Since his arrival at RIM in his role as COO, Heins has been credited with helping to reduce device shipping times. However, good management capabilities and a 'safe pair of hands' may not only be disheartening for investors -- given RIM's current trajectory, it may not be enough to turn the company's fortunes around. In separate comments, Heins said that he would hire a new chief marketing officer to push a new "more consumer oriented" approach. He also continued to place faith in the delayed BlackBerry 10 OS saying that QNX is scalable beyond smartphones and tablets. [via Reuters]