John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

No Angry Mob at RIM Shareholders Meeting

For a company whose share price has plummeted nearly 60 percent this year, Research In Motion got off pretty easy at its annual meeting Tuesday. 

There was no ornery mob, no activists spoiling to give co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis the drubbing that many would argue they richly deserve. 

Instead, the roughly 300 shareholders assembled re-elected RIM’s entire board of directors, despite a recommendation by proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis to withhold votes for lead director John Richardson. And while a few castigated the company’s management for its strategic missteps, no one questioned its unusual dual leadership structure, which has been the topic of some debate recently among Wall Street analysts and corporate governance experts. There was barely a word from the activist shareholders who recently withdrew a motion to force Lazaridis and Balsillie to relinquish their shared roles as board chairmen.

Rather than hearing an apology for RIM’s current sorry state — and an explanation for the strategic missteps that have left it struggling to catch up with competitors that didn’t even exist five years ago — RIM shareholders were treated to the same what-me-worry narrative Balsillie and Lazaridis have been spinning for years now. RIM is poised to regain its leadership position in the smart device market, and its current co-CEOs are the right guys to make it happen.

“RIM’s foundations are very strong,” Balsillie said. “We’re on the verge of one of the biggest global product launches in our history … We’re not perfect, but we give our very best every day. We literally don’t take a day off.”

Good thing for that, because RIM’s shares, which traded at around $150 in the halcyon days, continue to dog-paddle at about $28, following two downward revisions to its earnings projections for the year.

Evidently, RIM’s shareholders — or at least those who bothered to attend the meeting — aren’t much bothered by that.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald