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In a passionate open letter this morning, a high-level Research in Motion executive offered up some suggestions on how co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis could reshape the company and avoid certain doom. But instead of assuring the executive that things will get better (or even responding to his actual points), all RIM had to offer up in response was a hilariously defensive blog post.
If you were worried about RIM’s prospects before, the company’s response today makes it seem even more dangerously out of touch.
The letter, first published on the mobile site Boy Genius Report, offers up some common-sense solutions like focusing more on end-user experience (as Apple does), fostering better relationships with developers and cutting complicated projects down to the bone. Although the letter was written anonymously, BGR confirmed the author’s identity. It clearly seems to have been written by someone who is heavily invested in RIM’s future.
“Mike and Jim, please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base,” the letter read. “You have many smart employees, many that have great ideas for the future, but unfortunately the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.”
In its response, RIM found it difficult to fathom that the executive’s motives were pure:
[I]t is particularly difficult to believe that a “high level employee” in good standing with the company would choose to anonymously publish a letter on the web rather than engage their fellow executives in a constructive manner, but regardless of whether the letter is real, fake, exaggerated or written with ulterior motivations, it is fair to say that the senior management team at RIM is nonetheless fully aware of and aggressively addressing both the company’s challenges and its opportunities.
RIM went on to point out that it was “in a solid business and financial position” with nearly $3 billion in cash and no debt, as well as “strong profitability” with $695 million net income last quarter. Of course, there was no mention of the slow BlackBerry sales and reduced outlook that cast a cloud over the company’s first-quarter earnings, or its poorly performing stock.
There’s no denying that RIM is in a tough spot, but it’s difficult to feel bad for a company that seems so oblivious to its own flaws. One potentially big change that could help the company is ousting Balsillie and Lazaridis from their CEO roles. As the anonymous RIM exec wrote, “perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO. There is no shame in no longer being a CEO. Mike, you could focus on innovation. Jim, you could focus on our carriers/customers… They are our lifeblood.”