RIM co chiefs Jim Balsillie, Mike Lazaridis step down

Bowing to investors pressure, Research in Motion's (RIM), co-CEOs and co-chairmen Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis yesterday announced that they would step down, as the maker of the BlackBerry smartphones struggles to compete with technology giants Apple and Samsung.

In a shake-up of the top management, Balsillie and Lazaridis will be replaced by Thorsten Heins as CEO and Barbara Stymiest as chairwoman, effective immediately.

Thorsten Heins is RIM's current chief operating officer and had joined RIM in 2007 from Siemens, while Barbara Stymiest, a former chief operating officer with the Royal Bank of Canada, is currently the director of the company.

Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984, will become vice chairman, while Balsillie will remain a board member without any operational role.

Considered as Canada's heroes, Balsillie and Lazaridis, who headed the Waterloo, Ontario-based company for the past two decades, have recently come under flack from investors for not being able to cope with the rapidly changing markets for smartphones and tablet computers.

"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise 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," Lazaridis said in a statement.