A major RIM shareholder announced at least eight percent of the company’s investors want a change in direction and leadership from the BlackBerry maker, signaling the company’s top leadership is failing on many levels.
Canada-based Jaguar Financial Corp chairman and CEO Vic Alboini claims that he is in talks with additional shareholders that could bring that number as high as 12 percent, though he refused to disclose the identities of those investors.
Coinciding with a three-day BlackBerry service outage that has affected users across five continents, Jaguar’s announcement signals more bad news for RIM.
The company has struggled throughout the past year, with dismal sales, plummeting stock, 2,000 employee layoffs, and a slump amid the long wait for its newest QNX software upgrade, which won’t be out until early next year.
Alboini has called RIM a “reactionary company trying to compete in an innovative industry.”
Alboini’s call for new leadership isn’t the first for the company. An open, anonymous letter to RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie went public in June. The author stated that “BlackBerry smartphone apps suck,” and went on to call for “a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO.”
Alboini agrees, stating, “A respected leader is exactly what RIM needs at this stage to re-orient the culture, recalibrate its competitive positioning and revive the spirit of invention.”
The BlackBerry platform, once the leader of the mobile technology field, is now in a distant third place behind its biggest competitors, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. If it can’t compete, shareholders feel that it should either sell, merge, or divide, likely in the hopes of decentralizing the decision-making power, which rests almost solely in the hands of co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
The two men have not yet responded to Jaguar’s most recent claims, and have not backed down in the face of prior criticism. RIM claimed at their annual company meeting in July that 90 percent of its voting shareholders backed the re-election of Balsillie and Lazaridis, who are also the company’s two biggest shareholders.
RIM has handled recent outages much the same way it’s been handling harsh criticism, staying mostly silent and periodically stating the equivalent of “we’re working on it.” If the company’s stock continues to fall, and its leadership continues to struggle, the fate of RIM may be in serious jeopardy, especially as its competition heats up.
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