More BlackBerry Execs Quit As Layoffs Loom

RIM BlackBerry executives quitBy Alastair Sharp

TORONTO -- The top lawyer at Research In Motion Ltd. has resigned and will soon leave the struggling BlackBerry maker, RIM said on Monday. She joins a parade of long-time company executives to depart since Thorsten Heins took over as CEO earlier this year.

The loss of Chief Legal Officer Karima Bawa -- who litigated numerous patent disputes and helped write many of RIM's commercial deals -- follows the resignation of RIM's head of global sales, Patrick Spence, last week. "Thorsten Heins is reframing the RIM organization. Not everyone will fit into the new picture," said IDC analyst Kevin Restivo. "Departures, forced or otherwise, are inevitable anytime management sets a new course for an organization."

The resignations come ahead of what are expected to be massive layoffs this year as the company prepares to launch BlackBerry smartphones run by an operating system completely different from that used in its legacy phones.

RIM's shares have fallen some 75 percent in the last year while its market share has shriveled against competition from iPhone-maker Apple Inc. and a slew of manufacturers using Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

Bawa, who joined RIM in 2000, was promoted to general counsel and chief legal officer in late 2010.

She plans to stay with the company while a replacement is hired and during a transition, RIM said in an emailed statement after Reuters asked about Bawa's status.

Analysts and former employees have long complained about what they viewed as a hyper-cautious corporate approach at RIM. That grew out of a drawn-out patent dispute early in the company's rise and was exacerbated by the hiring of a slew of in-house lawyers afterward.

Cleaning House
RIM is quietly cleaning out layers of management and recruiting fresh faces to fill important roles in a new structure being fashioned under Heins, who himself replaced longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January.

"Thorsten has a very different leadership style," said one former RIM employee who left several months ago. "He is picking a very specific organizational structure, inner circle, external hires and strategy, and a lot of folks aren't 100 percent comfortable with it."

The former employee spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his ongoing business relationship with the company.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company currently employs around 16,500 people globally. Two sources with close connections to RIM have told Reuters that RIM plans to bring its workforce closer to 10,000 by early next year.

The sources asked to go unidentified because their disclosures would hurt their relationships with RIM.

The cuts will affect RIM's legal, marketing, sales, operations and human resources divisions, one of the sources said.

"The Research In Motion people have come to know is very likely to be a much smaller organization in the near future," said IDC's Restivo. "It's a reflection of the company's smartphone struggles. Call it an trailing indicator if you will."

RIM's share of the global smartphone market slipped to 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from 13.6 percent a year earlier, according to IDC.

A round of 2,000 job cuts was planned for around June 1, the day before the end of RIM's quarter, The Globe and Mail said on Saturday, citing several people close to the company.

Last July, RIM said it cut 2,000 jobs after its worker count ballooned to near 20,000 following a string of acquisitions in recent years.

Balsillie remains the departure with the highest profile. While cutting all formal ties to the company, he remains a major shareholder. Lazaridis is still influential on the board.

A chief operating officer, Jim Rowan, and the head of software David Yach left in March. Soon after, Alan Brenner, a senior vice president for the BlackBerry platform, and Alistair Mitchell, vice president for the BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging product, also left.

The head of RIM's India unit left in November, its head of government relations left months before that, and former chief marketing officer Keith Pardy departed more than a year ago.

RIM said this month it had replaced Pardy with wireless veteran Frank Boulben, who has yet to start work.

It has also named Kristian Tear as its single chief operating officer. He replaces Heins, who took the CEO job, Rowan, who departed, and a third operating head, Don Morrison, who retired last year.

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May 29 2012 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love my BB.

May 29 2012 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a shame because it really is the best on the market to simply type and if you are not into all the other stuff, then there really isn't another product that can top it for ease of texting and email. I wish the other caught onto the fact some of us just enjoy typing on a bit of a regular looking keyboard without having to slide the phone, etc.

May 29 2012 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BlackBerries are junk. Both my wife and daughters have had BlackBerries in the last 8 years, and have had nothing but trouble. They get hot to the touch. They lose memory with no notice. The screen falls out. I have a flip phone and have no problems to date. But, it's a Samsung, not a RIM product. We've had Samsung, LG, HTC, and Motorola products. So, maybe it's RIM that's junk.

May 29 2012 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jjaytdad's comment

I think it makes a difference if its a refurb. Maybe I'll pay full price for my next one and it won't take 5 minutes to cold boot.

May 30 2012 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The writing was on the wall when Blackberry released it's tablet to such a cold reception. No software/aps for hey felt great because teen were using BBM, but guess what, teens do make money to spend on things. WHen they stayed in their corporate nitch, they were great, but for the mainstream, you need more than BBM, and email to make it. Yeah, some people are sticking with it just for BBM, but other than that, RIM offers NOTHING that other devices do, and other devices do it BETTER. RIM had better open up BBM for IPhone and Android before they miss the boat, and get "down-sized".

May 29 2012 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia Weidl

I am wishing that I had sold my shares of RIMM when it was up about 80.00! That's what I get for being greedy!

May 29 2012 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do not see the situation improving unless they choose to work a major company at this point.

May 29 2012 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why does Huff post stories with font sizes that do not work? Makes it hard for older people and others to read stories.

May 29 2012 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to OklaSunRise's comment
Paws Up

I just checked the font size. The font is size 12 which is the standard font size. This is the font size used by most websites for the text body. If you have trouble reading, you can zoom in by holding the CTRL key and scroll your mouse at the same time to zoom in or out. Alternatively, you can hold the CTRL key and click the plus sign (+) key to zoom in or (-) key to zoom out.

May 29 2012 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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