Jim Balsillie is no stranger to controversy in both the business and sports arenas, with the latest chapter in the wealthy Canadian's career seeing him step down along with Mike Lazaridis as co-CEOs of struggling Research In Motion Ltd.
Here are some highlights in the life of Balsillie:
- Date of birth: Feb. 3, 1961.
- Hometown: Seaforth, Ont., and raised in Peterborough. Now resides in Waterloo.
- Education: Graduated from Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School, received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. Earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989. Elected a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2003. Has also received an honorary doctor of laws from Wilfrid Laurier University (2003) and Dalhousie University (2006).
- Personal life: Married with two children.
- Business background: Chartered accountant with Clarkson Gordon (now Ernst & Young) after graduating from U of T. After completing his MBA, became executive vice-president and chief financial officer of technology with Sutherland-Schultz, a technology company in Kitchener, Ont. In 1992, Balsillie and Lazaridis founded Research In Motion, which revolutionized the communications industry with the development of the BlackBerry. RIM went from a small company to an international corporation worth more than $68 billion at the end of 2007. Balsillie stepped down as chairman of RIM, retaining his positions as co-CEO and director, when the company announced it would separate the roles of chairman and CEO after a $250-million earnings restatement relating to mistakes in how it granted stock options. On Jan. 22, Balsillie and Lazaridis stepped down as co-CEOs of RIM, but both will remain on the company's board.
- Sports background: A lover of sports since childhood, including playing hockey and golf and competing in long-course triathlons. Since 2006, has made three failed attempts at buying NHL teams — Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes — with the intention of moving them to Hamilton. His failed bid at purchasing the Coyotes resulted in several court hearings that Balsillie eventually lost in September 2009.
- Compensation: Balsillie earned $1.2 million with RIM last year, with total compensation of $5.1 million, but in late 2011, he and Lazaridis reduced their salaries to a token $1 each. His net worth was $1.8 billion as of March 2011, when he was listed No. 692 on the Forbes list of billionaires, and No. 19 in Canada.
- Philanthropic efforts: Balsillie and wife Heidi provided an endowment to help establish the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a non-profit, non-partisan international affairs research institute based in the former Seagram Museum in Waterloo. They are also patrons of the Grand River Hospital, and support RIM Park in Waterloo, the Balsillie Collection of Roy Studio Images in Peterborough and the Waterloo Regional Children's Museum. Balsillie is also a founding donor of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
- Quote: "Apple lives in a 'distortion field.'” Blog post in October 2010.
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