Facebook, JPMorgan, RIM: Who Should You Hate More?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Research in Motion (RIMM) died last week. True, it's not official. But, the City of Waterloo must be asking nearby Brampton about proper procedures for issuing corporate death certificates. Of course, Nortel Networks croaked in that Ontario town back in 2009.

RIM's demise impacts the "Silicon Valley of the North" profoundly. Waterloo residents have to wonder if their city could turn into the modern day version of Springsteen's Youngstown:
Now the yard's just scrap and rubble/He said "Them big boys did what Hitler couldn't do."

Even out of ultra-polite Canada, it's surprising what little outrage Canadians direct toward RIM. When an auto plant shutters in a small Ontario town, people go berserk.

Maybe it's because of the University of Waterloo and the other tech companies that locate there. Maybe Canadians feel like RIM's looming death will not kill the region. Or Canadians could have less concern over the ability of well-educated, tech-savvy countrymen and women getting back on their feet and snagging solid jobs somewhere else. That's optimistic and quite possibly sensible, but it hardly justifies the free pass the nation appears to have extended to RIM, particularly former co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. After all, somewhere else could be not in Waterloo, not in Ontario and maybe even not in Canada.

The Toronto Maple Leafs get more heat for missing the playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens catch more grief for not hiring a French-speaking head coach. Yet, win or lose, well-managed or not, both franchises boost rather than ding the economy and serve as sources of national pride, not embarrassment.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the Liberal Party faced more political inquiries over the last decade than any American politician. And, here at home, JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon had to answer questions -- twice -- from clueless congressmen about an honest error that pales in comparison to the wool RIM pulled over investors' eyes for the last 18 months.

As TheStreet's Marek Fuchs asked last week Were Previous BlackBerry 10 Comments Delusion -- or Lies?

As Fuchs riffed, up until its conference call RIM did not speak of problems regarding the launch. Then, all of a sudden, it offers a lamebrain excuse that the "large volume of code" associated with BlackBerry 10 features "has proven more time consuming than anticipated." Richard Saintvilus of TheStreet wasn't buying that in RIM Shoots Self in Foot, Then Puts Foot in Mouth:
Let me get this straight: This project has been your so-called "number 1 priority" but it has been mismanaged to the extent that ... it will miss the all-important holiday shopping season ...

RIM has a history of "delusion," lies" or whatever we should call these pathetic misfires. See my recent article, RIM Earnings: Get Ready for a Snoozefest This Time. This is a company that held tight to fiscal year 2012 EPS guidance of $7.50 and then $5.25 to $6.00 only to end up reporting $4.40. In the most recent quarter, RIM lost money.

Disclaimers about the uncertainty of "forward-looking statements" public companies make every time they release information should protect them, but only to a point. If Congress demands answers from Dimon at JPMorgan and the SEC investigates the entities associated with the Facebook ( FB) IPO, you would think somebody, somewhere would hold Balsillie, Lazaridis and new CEO Thorsten Heins accountable at RIM.

RIM likely cost U.S. shareholders millions of dollars. So, where's the SEC? Canadian investors must want answers, yet I have heard nothing on the matter from Canadian securities regulators. Frankly, I'm stunned that the Ontario provincial government or Canadian Parliament has not subpoenaed RIM management -- past and present -- to, at the very least, testify in public or go through the rigors of an official inquiry.

If nothing else, I would want answers on what amounts to something worse than a national disgrace. At least, with the air clear, other companies can use these answers to ensure RIM's implosion doesn't happen to them.

It's not like we can even laud Balsillie for doing some good for the Waterloo economy. If he succeeded in bringing an NHL franchise to Southern Ontario that would have meant new jobs and inflows into, not out of the economy. Heck, the Winnipeg Jets, playing in the National Hockey League's smallest market, likely will not qualify for a revenue share from teams playing in larger cities because they do so well. Given the almost-guaranteed fan support from places such as Waterloo, Brampton and Hamilton, a Balsillie-owned NHL team in the region probably would have fared just as well.

Here's a guy who, at least to some extent, distracted himself from running RIM, as it was imploding, as he attempted to secure a hockey team. He did not even succeed there. And now, Balsillie, along with Lazaridis and other RIM executives are partially, if not fully, responsible for a company's crash and thousands of pink slips. As Fuchs mused, there's delusion or something worse going on at RIM.

It's even more of a tragedy that Canadians watch American (and international) reaction to JPMorgan and Facebook, yet the light bulb does not go off. They do not demand the same level of accountability for their mega-corporations.

In fact, if Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran's response (via The Globe and Mail) represents the thoughts of Canadians, they all should be ashamed of themselves.

Halloran notes that she is "confident in RIM's continued success" and added:
I think we need to be supportive as Canadians ... I think every single Canadian should be buying Canadian technology. We need to remember they need our support and rally around them and continue to use their products.

Continued success? What a load of moronic tripe. How about a tax break for Apple to build another store in Waterloo?

But, forget Canada, the government's lax attitude toward domination of the media and telecommunications space by two companies -- Rogers Communications ( RCI) and BCE ( BCE) -- speaks to less intervention than we're used to in America. So, where is the SEC on RIM? It trades on a U.S. stock exchange. Investors spew discontent toward and the SEC occasionally goes after Chinese reverse mergers. Yet the SEC allows RIM to proceed, scathed by nothing other than its self-inflicted wounds.

After watching what JPMorgan and Facebook have gone through and what RIM has not gone through, I have to question priorities in society, securities regulation and government.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

At the time of publication, the author was long BCE, FB and RCI.

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