How’s this for a vote of confidence in the newly reformed BlackBerry. Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of then-known-as Research in Motion is no longer the third-largest shareholder in the company after selling a roughly 5.1% stake in the Canadian firm, according to a regulatory filing. He’s now the proud owner of 0 shares.
Balsillie and fellow former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis stepped down in January 2012 amid shareholder criticism over the way the company was being run. During their last couple of years at the helm RIM's stock plummeted 77% as it kept losing ground to Apple's iPhone and the army of Android devices. Meanwhile the launch of the Playbook tablet was a complete failure, forcing them to write off millions of dollars in unsold units, all while losing a trademark dispute over the BBX name, facing lawsuits and dealing multiple network outages.
It’s been a bumpy ride for sure and current CEO Thorsten Heins has done its best to try and turn things around. Late last month the company finally launched its new BlackBerry 10 operating system built from the ground up and new hardware to go with it, in what’s largely seen as a sink or swim moment for them. Despite mixed reviews and an overall uncertainty regarding BlackBerry’s ability to claw back market share from the likes of Apple and Samsung, initial sales in the UK and Canada look promising, sending shares up.
That enthusiasm may be short-lived, however, as news of Balsillie’s exit is already raising concerns among investors and sent shares down 3.5% in early trading on Nasdaq this morning.
Lazaridis still serves as vice chairman of BlackBerry and currently owns 29.9 million shares in the company.