RIM CEO 海因斯
預 計RIM將在週四報告季度營業虧損。該公司走到眼下這步田地是多種因素的合力造成的﹐但前高管說﹐其中之一在於兩名CEO個性不合。前不久在投資者施加越 來越大的壓力之際﹐CEO之一、創始人拉扎里迪斯(Mike Lazaridis)注重的是背水一戰地推出搭載新操作系統的新一代黑莓手機。而聯席CEO鮑爾西利(Jim Balsillie)則開始探索另一條戰略﹐設想授權其他公司使用RIM的自有技術。
兩人現在都已辭去CEO職務﹐曾是拉扎里迪斯副手的 海因斯(Thorsten Heins)在今年1月份取而代之。他正在大力削減成本。RIM說決心堅持撐到年內推出下一代黑莓手機的時候。但海因斯已經聘請投資銀行家尋找各種選項﹐ 且沒有排除將公司賣掉的可能。公司股價12個月下降接近70%﹐市值已經低於50億美元﹐不到峰值時期的十五分之一。
讓 人感到安慰的是﹐RIM還有20多億美元的現金作為緩沖。該公司上個月表示﹐第一財季（截至6月2日）的現金規模可能已經增加。另外公司沒有負債﹐所以有 更多的喘息空間來推出新的手機。RIM說﹐新手機的“黑莓10”(BlackBerry 10)操作系統“為可靠、安全的移動計算樹立了標準”。一位知情人士說﹐RIM曾跟投資銀行家講﹐正在聚精會神地準備推出這款新手機。這位人士說﹐如果新 手機大賣﹐RIM就會挽回失去的部分市值﹐而如果將來出售公司或展開合作﹐新的技術也非常有用。
根據本報對十幾位RIM前高管、與該公司 緊密合作的業內高管的採訪﹐RIM當前問題的根源在於對朴實無華的黑莓產品的盲目自信。據他們描述﹐公司內部關於誰才是核心客戶的持久爭論、一系列為追趕 潮流而推出但並沒有真正讓公司趕上來的產品﹐以及公司各部門之間的矛盾﹐更是讓RIM的問題雪上加霜。
RIM長期以為﹐公司客戶和個人客戶都會繼續喜歡黑莓手機很好用的手機郵件﹐而不是蘋果(Apple Inc. AAPL -0.95% )的iPhone和搭載谷歌(Google Inc. GOOG -0.88% )安卓(Android)操作系統的手機上那些各式各樣的功能和應用程序。當看到消費者逐漸遠離黑莓時﹐RIM試探性地採取了行動。
不只是RIM沒有迅速適應智能手機從通話、電郵終端向口袋式電腦的轉變。曾經的業內龍頭諾基亞(Nokia Corp. NOKBF -11.11% )也已經被迫與微軟(Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.86% )合作﹐讓後者武裝自己的手機。而隨著在全球智能手機市場中的份額銳減﹐諾基亞還將裁員數千人。
在 RIM﹐高管們最終引進了外部人才﹐但RIM前高管和曾與RIM合作的其他公司高管說﹐RIM本來就已經分裂為拉扎里迪斯和鮑爾西利的陣營﹐引進外部人才 讓公司員工之間的矛盾進一步加劇。據他們說﹐不同團隊有時候相互沖突﹐特別是在這家昔日智能手機王者進一步落後於人的時候。
RIM 還說﹐這種CEO架構多年來一直運轉良好﹐每位聯席CEO都可把注意力放在自己的強項上。該公司說﹐兩位聯席CEO最初共用一間辦公室﹐然後是擁有各自的 辦公室﹐但相互挨著﹐再到後來﹐隨著RIM發展壯大﹐每個CEO都選擇距離自己負責部門最近的辦公室﹐這樣可與其團隊隨時保持互動﹔無論何時﹐他們都有一 種高效、專業的工作關係﹐彼此之間保持了密切溝通。
RIM 曾為對公司有發明創造貢獻的員工舉辦奢華答謝會。為慶祝公司具有里程碑意義的發展﹐RIM曾請來U2和范•海倫(Van Halen)等樂隊為員工舉行音樂會。在距離多倫多70英里（約合110公里）、建有低矮灰色大樓的公司總部﹐每逢“霜凍星期五”(Frosty Fridays)﹐員工都能免費吃到冰激凌。
在 大約10年前的一個投資者會議上﹐分析師問拉扎里迪斯：RIM是否會轉而研發彩屏手機？當時彩屏手機剛剛在亞洲面世。據當時在美銀證券(Banc of America Securities)擔任分析師的布萊爾(Brian Blair)透露﹐拉扎里迪斯的回答是：我有必要看彩色電子郵件嗎？
那 時﹐RIM的客戶以企業為主﹐它們給員工配備黑莓手機來收發電子郵件。個人用戶當時也在不斷增多﹐吸引他們的一般是該手機的拍照、遊戲和互聯網瀏覽等功 能。RIM曾推出帶攝像頭和MP3播放器功能的手機﹐如2006年的Pearl和2007年的Curve等。2007年﹐蘋果iPhone問世。
RIM的運營商伙伴仍擔心﹐iPhone的風靡可能會讓蘋果擁有超乎尋常的市場影響力。知情人士說﹐Verizon Communications Inc. VZ +0.43% 和沃達豐空中通訊公司(Vodafone Group PLC VODPF 0.00% )的高管找到RIM﹐希望與之共同推出一部能與iPhone抗衡的手機。它們的合作促成RIM發佈了首款觸屏手機Storm。
RIM 的高管還曾忽視了一些公司內部的警報。知情人士說﹐公司的銷售部門在2010年撰寫了一份探討有觸感鍵盤未來前景的研究報告。這種易於用拇指操作的鍵盤在 黑莓手機剛推出時深受用戶喜愛。報告警告說﹐在蘋果的觸屏手機大行其道的時代﹐鍵盤手機的市場份額將越來越小。這些人士說﹐這一警告沒有引起RIM管理層 的注意。
鮑爾西利曾在當年的一次會議上問到﹐RIM是否應該對新的趨勢感到擔憂。他所說的趨勢是﹐消費者帶著自己私人的智能手機去上班﹐ 並向雇主提出允許他們用這些智能手機工作的請求。一些高管說﹐這個趨勢對RIM構成了威脅﹔也有少數人表示自己並不為此感到擔心。與RIM關係密切的一位 人士說﹐鮑爾西利屬於後者。RIM拒絕透露有關公司內部非公開討論的信息。
隨著蘋果和安卓設備逐漸侵吞黑莓的市場份額﹐拉扎里迪斯開始在 公司外部尋求創新﹐聘請了新的營銷團隊和一些高管。2010年4月﹐RIM收購了QNX Software Systems Ltd.﹐QNX是一家汽車和醫療設備用電腦操作系統的提供商。RIM當時正準備開發一款與iPad相抗衡的電腦﹐高管們決定這款電腦將搭載QNX的操作 系統﹐並將其命名為PlayBook。
這 些人士說﹐這兩名CEO私下裡定期見面﹐即使不見面﹐也會向對方發送即時信息或打電話﹐以交流想法﹐匯報彼此的業務進展。但是在RIM陷入困境時﹐他們更 多是在不同的世界埋頭苦幹。這些人士說﹐分別向他們二人匯報工作的兩個團隊甚至可以說從未有效溝通過。公司的一些項目有可能在兩位CEO誰都未發現問題苗 頭的情況下走入歧途﹐兩個團隊間的分歧有時甚至要靠大吵大嚷來解決。
Multiple Missteps Led To RIM's Fall
As the BlackBerry smartphone fell steadily further behind app-loaded rivals like the iPhone in recent years, it was time for an unambiguous response from the chief executive's office.
At Research In Motion Ltd., however, that was complicated. The BlackBerry maker had two chief executives. Moreover, their offices were about a 10-minute drive apart. Meetings with both of them present were rare, say former RIM executives and people who dealt with the company.
Many forces have combined to bring RIM to the point of reporting a quarterly operating loss, as is expected on Thursday, but one of them was a split personality in the executive suite, former executives say. As investor pressure mounted at the company recently, one CEO, company founder Mike Lazaridis, was focused on a make-or-break push to launch a next-generation BlackBerry with a new operating system. His co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, started pursuing a separate strategy that envisioned licensing out some of the company's proprietary technologies.
Both men are gone from the CEO suite now, replaced in January by former Lazaridis lieutenant Thorsten Heins. He is slashing costs. RIM says it is committed to seeing through the rollout later this year of its next BlackBerry. But Mr. Heins has hired investment bankers to explore options and hasn't ruled out a sale of a company, whose stock has tanked nearly 70% in 12 months and pushed its market value, at under $5 billion, to less than one-fifteenth of its peak.
RIM still has a comfortable cash cushion of more than $2 billion, which it said last month is likely to have grown in its fiscal first quarter ended June 2. It also is debt-free, giving it more breathing room to get out its new phone, with an operating system called BlackBerry 10 that RIM says 'sets the standard for reliable, secure mobile computing.' RIM has told its bankers it is focused on that rollout, said a person familiar with the matter. If the phone is a hit, the company will recover some of its lost value, and the new technology will be a boon to any possible sale or partnership in the future, this person said.
According to interviews with more than a dozen former RIM executives and industry executives who worked closely with the company, it was a blinding confidence in the basic BlackBerry product that was at the root of RIM's current troubles. Compounding that, as they describe the events, were a drawn-out internal debate over who their core customer was; a series of catch-up products that didn't really catch the company up; and tensions within parts of the company.
The bet long made by RIM was that both corporate and individual customers would continue to favor the BlackBerry's easy-to-use mobile email over the multiplying features and apps on Apple Inc.'s iPhone and devices running on Google Inc.'s GOOG +0.82% Android operating system. When it saw consumers starting to gravitate away from BlackBerrys, RIM moved tentatively.
At one point, RIM worked to challenge the iPhone with telecom carriers that were fearful of Apple's dominance. The new models that came out of these collaborations, however, failed to generate iPhone-like buzz.
RIM isn't alone in failing to adapt quickly to the transformation of smartphones from devices to talk and email into pocket-size computers. Once-dominant Nokia Corp. has been forced into a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to equip its phones to compete, and is slashing thousands of jobs as its share of the global smartphone market erodes.
At RIM, executives eventually brought in outside talent, but that raised tensions inside the ranks of a company that already harbored separate Lazaridis and Balsillie fiefs, some former RIM executives and executives who have worked with RIM say. According to them, the separate teams sometimes clashed, especially as the onetime smartphone leader slipped further behind.
RIM, in a statement, said the split-personality characterization wasn't accurate. 'As with any innovative company there were times when various people within the organization disagreed, but this was not the norm,' it said.
'The CEO structure worked well for many years and allowed each of the co-CEOs to focus on their areas of strength,' RIM added. It said the co-CEOs started out sharing an office, had offices next to each other, and then, 'as RIM grew, they each took offices closest to those areas each supervised in order to stay close to their teams. At all times, they had an efficient, professional working relationship and were in close communication.'
Mr. Heins, soon after taking over as CEO early this year, put an end to the strategy pursued by one CEO: Mr. Balsillie's licensing initiative. RIM said it doesn't discuss nonpublic internal deliberations.
Mr. Balsillie has given up his board seat. Mr. Lazaridis remains nonexecutive vice chairman.
'Successful companies take what they can learn from every situation and use that to push forward,' Mr. Lazaridis said, noting that he and Mr. Balsillie 'felt it was the right time in RIM's life cycle to turn the leadership of the company over to someone else.' Mr. Balsillie didn't respond to requests for comment.
RIM didn't make Mr. Heins available, citing a quiet period before the earnings release.
RIM essentially invented email on the go. Founded by Mr. Lazaridis in 1984 with a $15,000 loan from his parents, the company grew to a stock-market value of more than $80 billion at its zenith in 2008, controlling about half the U.S. smartphone market.
RIM hosted lavish banquets for its inventors. To mark milestones, it treated employees to concerts by bands such as U2 and Van Halen. At the company's campus of low-slung gray buildings 70 miles from Toronto, employees got free ice cream on 'Frosty Fridays.'
Amid its cost-cutting, RIM isn't giving up entirely on ice cream days. 'Ice cream is a relatively low-cost way to build stronger bonds within our team,' RIM said.
Mr. Balsillie, who came aboard in 1992 after having explored a takeover bid for the company, and Mr. Lazaridis became Canada's best-known billionaires, each funneling chunks of wealth to pet projects. Mr. Lazaridis built a theoretical-physics institute. Mr. Balsillie started a school for global governance and tried unsuccessfully to buy three professional hockey teams.
Behind the success was Mr. Lazaridis's unrelenting vision for robust engineering and innovation and Mr. Balsillie's push for market expansion. But former executives say there was also an aversion at the company to innovations that didn't buttress its core strengths: its proprietary network and reputation for security.
At an investor meeting about a decade ago, analysts asked Mr. Lazaridis whether RIM was moving to a color screen, a feature popping up on devices in Asia. 'Do I need to read my email in color?' he replied, according to Brian Blair, then an analyst with Banc of America Securities.
RIM says that at the time, color screens were impractical, with high costs and high battery drain. It says it was among the first to adopt color displays just a few years later.
RIM's customers then were overwhelmingly companies, which gave their employees BlackBerrys for email. But a growing number were individuals, often eager for features such as cameras, games and Internet browsing. RIM brought out devices with cameras and MP3 players including the Pearl in 2006 and the Curve in 2007-the year the iPhone came out.
Still, RIM's carrier partners worried that the wild popularity of the iPhone could give Apple outsize influence in the market. Executives at Verizon Communications Inc. VZ -0.14% and Vodafone Group PLC approached RIM to work together on a phone that could compete with the iPhone, say people familiar with the matter. The collaboration resulted in RIM's first touch-screen device, the Storm.
'Vodafone started really rushing around saying, 'Helps us build an innovative competitor to the iPhone,' ' said Pieter Knook, a Vodafone executive at the time. He said Mr. Lazaridis came up with the Storm's marquee innovation, a touch screen that physically clicked.
The Storm 'sold very well,' but wasn't a strong competitor to the iPhone, said Denny Strigl, at the time president of Verizon.
In 2010, AT&T Inc., T +0.60% then Apple's exclusive carrier partner, approached RIM about a plan to develop a touch-screen rival to the iPhone, said two former RIM executives. The chief of AT&T's mobile division visited RIM's research and development team in Waterloo to stress how important it was for AT&T to have a successful BlackBerry product to sell, according to people familiar with the visit. RIM said the objective of the visit was to develop 'a differentiated, unique BlackBerry experience for AT&T customers.'
'We work with all device makers to bring the best products to market for our customers,' AT&T said.
A RIM-AT&T collaboration resulted in the BlackBerry Torch, say people familiar with the effort, but it was hobbled by hardware and software shortcomings.
RIM executives also missed some internal warnings. The sales division produced a research report in 2010 on the future of tactile keyboards, the thumb-friendly feature that was a favorite in the early days of the BlackBerry. The report warned that in the era of Apple's touch-only devices, keyboards would make up a diminishing share of the market, according to a person familiar with it, who said the warning was ignored.
During a meeting the same year, Mr. Balsillie asked if RIM should be worried about a new trend: consumers bringing their own smartphones to work and asking their employer to let them work on the devices. Some executives said the trend was a threat; a few said they weren't worried. Mr. Balsillie went with the latter view, said a person close to the company. RIM said it doesn't discuss nonpublic 'internal company deliberations.'
As Apple and Android devices ate into BlackBerry's market share, Mr. Lazaridis started looking outside for innovation, bringing in a new marketing team and other top executives. In April 2010 RIM bought QNX Software Systems, a maker of operating systems for cars and medical devices. RIM was readying a tablet to compete with the iPad, and executives decided that they would use QNX to power the device, called the PlayBook.
According to people close to the company, the acquisition stoked tensions between the teams led by Mr. Lazaridis, who was in charge of product development, manufacturing and R&D, and Mr. Balsillie, who ran carrier partnerships, sales and marketing.
The two CEOs met in person fairly regularly, and would send instant messages or call each other to bounce ideas around or get progress reports when they weren't in the same room. But as RIM hit trouble, they were more often than not toiling in very different worlds, according to these people, who say the teams reporting up to the two didn't communicate effectively if at all. Some projects would go astray before either co-CEO noticed, these people say, and disagreements between the two sides sometimes devolved into shouting matches.
The QNX leadership team reported directly to Mr. Lazaridis, bypassing Mr. Balsillie and other top RIM officers, rankling them, according to people familiar with the situation.
Meanwhile, by late 2011, Mr. Balsillie was deep into his own project, an effort aimed at licensing some of RIM's proprietary technology, such as its security network and its popular BBM messaging tool, to outside companies. Some analysts had long suggested such a move to boost revenue and buy the company more time as it readied its new phone.
Mr. Balsillie and a team under him struck licensing agreements with several partners, including carriers, according to people familiar with the effort. The deals would have allowed other smartphone makers and the carriers to use RIM's network for a fee.
But by the end of last year, RIM shares were hitting eight-year lows. On Jan. 22, the board, led by Messrs. Lazaridis and Balsillie as co-chairmen, said the two would step aside. They remained big shareholders and each kept a board seat.
Within a week of becoming CEO, Mr. Heins, a Lazaridis lieutenant, scuttled the licensing plan, people familiar with it said. He said he would focus a slimmed-down RIM on rolling out its new BlackBerry phones.