Jaguar Financial, a noisy little financial firm that has a few shares in RIM, has piped up again with complaints about the company’s leadership, only this time it’s not just them. They have apparently won support from those who own 8% of RIM’s total issued shares, who all feel that there needs to be an independent chairman (a role currently shared by co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis), and then generate some shareholder value somehow. That 8% doesn’t necessarily agree on whether RIM should generate value by either selling the whole company, merging with another one, or splitting RIM up into separate network, device, and patent entities, but those are all options suggested by Jaguar.
It sounds drastic, sure, but have you looked at RIM’s stock lately? If there was ever a time for drastic measures, now would be it. Nokia was in a similar position, and they booted out their staid CEO, replaced him with someone else, ditched their old platform, and adopted Windows Phone wholesale. To be fair, RIM’s financials aren’t as dire, they’re already on the verge of switching platforms, and are ready to get friendly with other competing operating systems. While I’m not entirely sure the transition to BBX will be a smooth one given the delays for a PlayBook update, I’m not willing to write off the future of RIM until we see what they bring to market early next year. Of course, RIM’s leadership has been under fire for some time, and a series of departures high in the company suggest not all is well on the organizational side. If RIM fumbles the next launch because of stodgy leadership, shareholders will regret not pushing for a leadership change sooner (that is, if they didn’t already).
Considering Jaguar itself owns a little under 5% of RIM, the fact that it has 8% support isn’t that big of a deal. Now, keep in mind that Jaguar’s hubbub is only from a select few shareholders that have agreed with them, and there are likely other big ones putting the pressure on RIM from other angles. If more shareholders include their support to generate a clear and substantial message that something needs to change at the top for the next wave of BlackBerry products to succeed, maybe we’ll see some dramatic action sooner than later.
What do you guys think – should Lazaridis and Balsillie be replaced? Would it actually do BlackBerry any good?