RIM to Former Co-CEOs: Here’s $12 Million for a Job Well Done — Until About Four Years Ago

Published on June 15, 2012
by John Paczkowski

When Research In Motion’s longtime co-chairmen and co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie relinquished their management roles earlier this year, their incentive to do so was more than just an angry mob of shareholders and critics calling for their ouster. It was money. Nearly $12 million in combined payouts for agreeing to step aside.

According to RIM’s latest 6-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Balsillie was given a payout of $7.93 million for the current fiscal year, which includes salary, bonus and a severance package valued at about $4.8 million. Lazaridis received $3.96 million in salary and awards, as well as a 10-year extension on health coverage for himself and his family, and a company car and driver.

Not Fiorinian golden parachutes by any means, but not too bad for walking away from the train wreck for which the pair is largely responsible. Just as Lazaridis and Balsillie built RIM into a global smartphone juggernaut, so too did they drag it into the mud with a series of tragic strategic missteps that began with their failure to recognize Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android as threats when they first emerged back in 2007.

That said, Lazaridis and Balsillie are pioneers, and their contributions to the wireless industry have been profound. And to RIM’s board, that’s ample justification for the pair’s transition agreements.

“Messrs. Lazaridis and Balsillie revolutionized the worldwide wireless industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry and forever changed how the world communicates,” RIM’s 6-K reads. “Under their leadership, the Company successfully navigated many challenges and quickly scaled to become a global company and industry leader with sales in over 175 countries and more than 17,000 employees worldwide. Over the last decade, the Company experienced tremendous growth, with annual revenues increasing from $294 million to just under $20 billion.”

Which is true.

Too bad it’s also true that five years ago RIM’s market cap was 16 times what it is today …

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