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TheStreet Open House

RIMM: Right Idea, Disastrous CEO Pick

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NEW YORK ( RealMoney) -- Research in Motion (RIMM) took a step in the right direction with the announcement that Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped down as co-CEOs. But the selection of COO Thorsten Heins to replace them is disastrous.

Perhaps Thorsten has many positives obvious only to the people who work with him that make him an effective manager and allow him to ensure BB10 (RIMM's new operating system due in the fall) will ship on time. But from his public statements so far, there are a number of negatives to consider.

Research in Motion is going nowhere fast with its new CEO pick.

In his first 12 hours as CEO, it's obvious Heins is a lousy communicator. RIMM's stock went from being up 5% before the introductory call with investors this morning to 2% down by the time the call wrapped up. The shares are down nearly 7% to under $16 in midday trading.

Heins believes RIMM only needs incremental change, not radical change. He's repeated this several times in his first day on the job. That's not what investors want to here.

He seems extraordinarily naïve to say that RIMM's problems can be fixed just by spending more on "consumer marketing."

His introductory YouTube video to employees and investors was shockingly dull.

If there was ever a company that needed an outside CEO to shake the company to its core, it's RIMM. Instead, they've picked a tweaker, someone who loves "process improvement." If Heins is so great at process improvement and internal operations, what has he been doing for the last five years as COO of RIMM? Was he responsible for PlayBook 1.0 shipping without email?

Can there really be change at the BlackBerry maker when the co-founders remain on the board, and Lazaridis says he will remain active and be vice chair of the new Innovation Committee? How does a relatively young CEO who's used to deferring to Balsillie and Lazaridis for five years suddenly become his own man and start calling the shots with them chipping in on every decision

Heins spent 20 years at Siemens (SI) -- not a company known for consumer marketing or success in the handset business.

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