Mike Lazaridis was at the helm of Research In Motion Ltd. for two decades, along with Jim Balsillie, before the two announced on Jan. 22 that they are leaving their top jobs at the Waterloo, Ont.-based company.
The co-chief executive officers of RIM had developed the iconic BlackBerry and began selling the device in 1999. It was the smartphone of choice for business employees for almost a decade, until Apple and other competitors eventually knocked RIM out of top spot in the corporate arena.
Here are some highlights in the life and career of Lazaridis:
- Date of birth: The 50-year-old Greek-Canadian businessman was born in Istanbul on March 14, 1961. He was five when his family moved to Canada.
- Education: He studied electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Waterloo, but dropped out in 1984, just two months before graduation, to set up RIM. He received an honorary engineering doctorate from the University of Waterloo in 2003.
- Honours: In 2006, Lazaridis was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario.
- Charity: Lazaridis has donated more than $100 million to educational research initiatives in the Waterloo, Ont., region. In 2000, he used some of his wealth to found the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, focusing on cutting-edge scientific research in experimental physics.
- Compensation: His basic annual salary was about $1.17 million in 2011. In March, 2011, he was reported to be worth $1.9-billion, slightly ahead of Balsillie at $1.8-billion. Some reports say they're still billionaires, while others say they're each worth roughly $800 million each because of plummeting RIM share prices and charitable donations.
- Corporate misfire: In September 2010, Lazaridis announced RIM's new tablet, the PlayBook, to be rolled out in the spring of 2011, but it was not equipped with RIM's trademark email service and the company's fortunes began to sag.