Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie: A visual history
Take a closer look at BlackBerry maker RIM's top execs
The following slideshow is dedicated to breaking down RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis and his partner in cRIMe, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie. And we're not pulling any punches on these CEOs just because there are two of them.
On the outside, both Lazaridis and Balsillie appear much the same, well-groomed, tailored suits, executive grins, etc. Inside though, Lazaridis is the technical genius who created the initial foundation for BlackBerry wireless communication devices and Balsillie represents the business side of BlackBerry, focusing on the firm's strategic direction. Lazaridis speaks to geeks at BlackBerry trade show and developer events, Balsillie talks to CEOs and other execs about why they should invest in BlackBerry.
2. Processing power
Lazaridis has a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences from the Canadian University of Waterloo, and he holds honourary doctoral degrees from McMaster University, University of Windsor and Université Laval.
Balsillie earned degrees from the University of Toronto and the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He is a fellow of the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants. And he holds numerous honourary doctorate degrees.
3. Value (net worth)
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have a net worth of $2.2 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively, and both were included in Forbes 2010 list of the world's 500 richest men. That is one big pile of cabbage, the fortune that BlackBerry built! To Balsillie and Lazaridis's credit, the two BlackBerry executives are active philanthropists and both contribute regularly, and quite generously, to a variety of technological and humanitarian causes.
4. Location services
Though Lazaridis was born in Istanbul, Turkey, he moved to Canada when he was five and hasn't looked back. Balsillie is a native Canadian. Both are proud to hail from north of the border.
And it shows; RIM is about as Canadian as companies come. Lazaridis is even a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he was named to the Order of Ontario and he is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
RIM's co-CEO's don't often take guff. Like BlackBerry smartphones, Lazaridis and Balsillie are ready to defend themselves against threats from outsiders. For instance, take the whole iPhone 4 "antennagate" situation of late. Apple CEO Steve Jobs not-so-democratically attempted to shift blame away from his company and evenly distributed it amongst competitors. But Balsillie wasn't having it, releasing public comments about Apple's reality "distortion field." Smack, bang, POW.
6. Battery life
In addition to being RIM co-CEO Lazaridis helped create the University of Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing and has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the school's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Balsillie founded The Centre for International Governance Innovation, a world class global research institute and, years later, announced the creation of the new Canadian International Council.
7. Native games
Jim Balsillie is first and foremost the leading business mind behind RIM and BlackBerry, but he's also an avid sports fan and athlete. The Canadian's favourite sport? You guessed it? Hockey. And Balsillie's not just a player or a fan, he's attempted multiple times, albeit unsuccessfully, to buy and move another major NHL franchise including the popular Pittsburgh Penguins onto Canadian soil. Balsillie is also known to be a competitive golfer. Fore!
It's easy to forget that the BlackBerry smartphone has its humble beginnings in some basic wireless display technology for warehouses. In reality, Mike Lazaridis founded RIM as an undergraduate student in the mid-1980s, started experimenting with various technologies, those initial experiments extended to wireless data transmission and the rest is history. Balsillie didn't join the team until 1992, but that's when the real magic started.
9. Special, errr
In Lazaridis's words, something that sets RIM and BlackBerry apart from its competitors is "Super Apps." This term refers to the mobile application developers' ability to integrate BlackBerry apps with core functions of the BlackBerry OS to make them feel like they were a part of the OS from the get go. But the term hasn't quite resonated with users and critics... and Lazaridis and RIM just won't let go. Lazaridis was also recently quoted as describing future BlackBerrys as "Super Phones."