Pressure ratcheting up on RIM leadership

Pressure ratcheting up on RIM leadership
Research in Motion has enjoyed many years of strong growth, but 2011 was not one of them. When BlackBerry phones were exploding in market share the unique leadership at RIM was often seen as a boon to the company. Predictably enough, now that RIM is nose-diving the same leadership structure is seen as one of the problems.

To be sure, RIM has a quirky arrangement of top executives. They rather famously have two men acting as co-CEOs, but those two also co-Chair the Board of Directors and happen to be the largest shareholders in the company. Which is to say, they have largely been accountable only to themselves. This summer a shareholders group threatened to bring the management structure up for a vote, but withdrew their request when an agreement was struck to create an independently lead board and a commission to re-evaluate the leadership structure.

At the time many investors thought the agreement wouldn’t lead to substantial change, but as RIM stock has continue to shed value the pressure is mounting for real change at the company. RIM’s stock is down 74% this year, and their market share has plummeted to just 17-18% of the smartphone market.

Two other dynamics have come into play since this summer. The launch of the highly-touted BB7 line of phones failed to reverse RIM’s market share decline, and it has become widely understood that the QNX-based phones that will usher in a true next-gen OS won’t launch until the latter half of 2012.

So now RIM’s co-CEOs find themselves in a skid that won't be reversed with current products, and the next generation of BlackBerrys are the better part of a year away. It seems likely that they will have to accept a more drastic change in leadership, or else be held accountable by a shareholder revolt.

source: WSJ via electronista

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