John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM Execs Realize They’ve Had Their Reality-Distortion Field Pointed Backward All This Time

Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins says he’s hell-bent on transforming the struggling company into a “lean, mean, hunting machine.” But investors aren’t convinced.

During RIM’s annual shareholders meeting today, investors vented their frustration with the company’s recent performance, which has dragged its share price down nearly 80 percent. Among their more pointed criticisms: RIM’s complacent board of directors has failed the company miserably, and may well do so again if it’s not replaced.

“I am extremely … extraordinarily critical of the board,” one shareholder said during the Q&A portion of the meeting. “I don’t think any of the old board members should still be on the board. RIM’s decline has been occurring for years. Why did they let it get out of hand? How could they allow things to get so bad before doing anything about it?”

An apt question, and one with a sentiment shared by more than a few RIM shareholders. While the company’s slate of directors was elected, preliminary results showed a significant percentage of votes withheld, including more than 30 percent from John Richardson, and 19 percent from former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis — RIM’s two longest-serving board members. Not exactly overwhelming approval for the current board. As the aforementioned shareholder observed, “What this company needs is an upheaval.”

And, to its credit, RIM’s leadership recognizes that. Chairwoman Barbara Stymiest said RIM continues to seek additional board members with the help of an executive search firm. And Heins, who has wisely dropped the “happy happy joy joy” talk for which he took so much flak last week, was more appropriately contrite facing his shareholders today.

“I am not satisfied with the performance of the company over the past year. Many of you are frustrated with the time it has taken us to make our way through the transition,” Heins said, before stressing once again that RIM is headed in the right direction. “The management team and I have already instituted some major changes this year, and there will be more to come as we work to turn around the company’s performance. … But I have assembled a leadership team that’s truly capable of taking us into the future.”

As I said, investors are unconvinced — at the moment, the stock is down to just more than $7 a share, close to 5 percent.

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