RIM co-CEOs co-resign, co-COO Thorsten Heins takes over

I think the Globe and Mail was the first to report that RIM’s beleaguered CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are out – moved upstairs to the boardroom.  The strangest thing about the story, and really the past few years, is the total denial by the leadership that Blackberry is in a death spiral.

Research In Motion Ltd.’s new chief executive officer says the company is doing everything right and does not need a change in strategy, and must instead focus on harnessing its talent to improve the BlackBerry and revive sales.

“It’s a fantastic growth story and it’s not coming to an end,” Mr. Heins said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “What you will see with me is rigour and flawless execution.”

When asked whether he thought the appointment of Ms. Stymiest as chair and himself as CEO would be enough to satisfy investors, Mr. Heins retorted, “Change to what? Change for what?”

He continued, “I mean, what’s the objective of a change? We’ve made a lot of changes in the past 18 months. Not changes, but also evolution. I changed a lot of my management team, in hardware, software … I’ve trained a lot of other people in the last four years. What do you think I did? … We didn’t stand still in the last 18 months, we did our homework. And I think we will complete our homework soon.”

Even in appointing a current co-COO, who looks even less charismatic than either of the two people he replaces (video below), RIM is hedging its bets on Blackberry 10/QNX, which it won’t release until the end of 2012 on phones —if it bucks recent trends and ships on time.  Heins joined RIM just as the iPhone was released in 2007, and he has seen the company’s market share dive.

RIM’s tablet effort, the Playbook, is barely selling and only when priced below cost.  It still somehow does not natively do email.

It is hard not to feel bad for the position this once great company is now in.

(Making it easier, RIM has scheduled an 8am ET Monday conference call with the press on the details. Press release follows) Read more

Apple CEO: A tough act to follow

In an operational sense, today won’t be any different than yesterday at Apple.  The people who help curate the sjobs@apple.com email address will probably be putting in some extra hours, the work changing around the placards is probably almost done, and it appears Apple isn’t going to be doing any sort of media tours to ‘help allay investor fears’.

And they don’t need to.  Nothing has really changed.  I imagine bigger changes were slowly happening behind the scenes a few months ago when Operations VP (incidentally, Tim Cook’s original title) Jeff Williams was promoted to the Executive Bios page.  He probably began doing the work of a traditional COO at around that point and, of course, Tim Cook has been acting as a traditional CEO on and off for years.

As Cook’s email to the troops this morning explained, Apple is not going to change – drastically, that is.  As any company, Apple is always changing.  But Jobs has set up an internal ‘University’ program run by a former Yale dean to make sure that his and other leaders’ values continue to be passed down to Apple’s new VPs and employees.

Steve Jobs hired dean of Yale School of Management Joel Podolny to run the Apple University, an internal group also featuring business professors and Harvard veterans that are writing a series of case studies to prepare employees for the life at Apple after Jobs. These case studies focus on Apples recent business decisions and internal culture, they are exclusive to employees and taught by top executives like Tim Cook and Ron Johnson.

As John Gruber made note, Apple the company is as meticulously designed as any Apple product:

Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.

Apple is the most valuable tech company in the world, an accomplishment that took fourteen years of fantastic long-term decision making.  That same intelligence and foresight has gone into the planning of life after Jobs roaming the hallways.  Compare today’s long-prepared news on Apple’s share price (none) with that of HP’s bungled earnings news last week on their share price (–20%).

Renaissance Man
Jobs isn’t just a technologist.  He built and directed Pixar into the greatest animation studio in the world ahead of anything Hollywood could produce.  He changed the music industry forever.

“For a guy who never recorded a song, or signed a band, or founded a label or a music festival, Steve Jobs has probably had more of an impact on the music world than any other person in the last quarter century – and possibly since Thomas Edison.”

He might have been the best, but for all of his greatness, Steve Jobs was not a perfect leader.  There have been a few flops and mistakes. Perhaps Jobs was too trusting of Google early on? Options back-dating happened under his watch. AT&T?

Obviously, the triumphs far, far outweigh the mis-steps.  As you look at a 55-year-old man in the body of someone decades older, it’s hard not to imagine what a healthy Steve Jobs with twenty years left at the helm might accomplish.  I wouldn’t compare the loss of Jobs’ ability to “move the world forward” to the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but it’s hard to find another such comparison that makes sense.  This is the man that ushered in personal computers, then did it again with the Mac GUI, then put iOS on portable devices and ushered in the smartphone revolution that we are in the midst of right now and finally re-invented the Post-PC personal computing device.  He might have even done things we don’t even recognize yet.  Perhaps he’s killed office park campuses with the Mothership HQ?  Maybe Apple releases a wearable device in a few months that changes watches like the iPhone changed phones?

What huge innovations will we miss decades from now?

Perhaps the knowledge of his own mortality pushed Jobs even harder.  You don’t need to listen to his famous Stanford speech to understand his appreciation for the opportunity he got as a cancer survivor.  He worked every day as Apple CEO, just like yesterday, his last.

So how is anyone supposed to follow Jobs, especially an Industrial Engineer out of Auburn who, comparatively, seems introverted and certainly not as innovative?

Give Cook some credit

Remember, Jobs hand-picked Tim Cook to be his successor.  What greater honor could you bestow on someone? Jobs didn’t just pick him out of the air, either: they’ve been working alongside each other for over a decade.  Jobs picked Cook to be VP of Operations just months after taking back the reigns at Apple in 1997-98. We’re talking 13 quality years working side by side every day here.

As we know, Jobs isn’t shy about telling people what he thinks or cutting people loose who aren’t meeting his expectations.  If there were a better candidate in the world for being the COO and now CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs would have found him or her.

Cook has managed Apple’s employees, partners, vendors and everything else during its decade+ renaissance.  Remember, Steve Jobs’ first round at Apple and subsequent venture at NeXT were mired in operational mis-steps.  Sure, Jobs learned from his mistakes, but I think Jobs would be the first to give Tim Cook credit for turning Apple into the operations machine it is today.

But can Tim Cook live up to Steve Jobs’ leadership? Read more

Steve Jobs submits resignation as CEO of Apple, elected Chairman of the Board. Tim Cook in as CEO

This is of course a sad day and one that we’ve had in the back of our minds for years now. After founding Apple 35 years ago in his garage in Silicon Valley, and subsequently getting pushed out less than a decade later, Jobs was brought back in 1997 when Apple was on the brink of collapse. In the 14 years since his return, Apple has turned into the most valuable company in the world by market cap. To say he’s leaving the CEO position on top would be an understatement.

Since his third medical leave was taken in January it has seemed Jobs has been moving into a Chairman-type roll, still leading the Keynotes but giving everyone else a bigger role. As Chairman, Jobs will “continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration,” said Apple Board member Art Levinson. Tim Cook will take over as CEO as per the Apple succession plan. Jeff Williams will likely take over as COO.

In the past months, Jobs has revealed a revolutionary new headquarters for the Apple of the future. The authorized biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (pictured above) is due out in November.

The Resignation letter:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple”s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

From the newswires….

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Apple’s Board of Directors today announced that Steve Jobs has resigned as Chief Executive Officer, and the Board has named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO. Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

Jobs submitted his resignation to the Board today and strongly recommended that the Board implement its succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO.

As COO, Cook was previously responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.
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