Waterloo-based BlackBerry maker Research in Motion certainly hit rock bottom this week.
With the resignation of its founder, Mike Lazaridis, and co-CEO of 20-plus years, Jim Balsillie, the company's prospects are the bleakest they've been in its 28-year history. Here, a biased look back at what went right and what went wrong.
March 14, 1961
Mihalis Lazaridis is born to Greek parents in Istanbul, Turkey. His family moves to Windsor, Ontario, five years later.
Lazaridis wins an award for reading every single science book in the Windsor Public Library.
He drops out of the University of Waterloo two months before graduation to start Research In Motion. The company works on film editing equipment and an electronic toothbrush. Below, Lazaridis, left, and the company at a trade show around this era.
With only around 10 employees on payroll, Lazaridis hires 31-year-old Jim Balsillie fresh out of Harvard Business School, who becomes co-CEO a year later, a position he holds until this week.
Balsillie introduces and enforces the Donut Rule: if employees are caught discussing or checking RIM's share price, they have to buy donuts for the entire company.
RIM ships the first Inter@ctive pager 950, a clamshell-shaped wireless messaging device and precursor of the BlackBerry, nicknamed "the Bullfrog" and "the Hamburger" because it was short, round and pudgy.
Initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The first-ever BlackBerry is announced in Munich, Germany, for some reason. Its name was devised by the same marketing firm that Apple hired to brand its PowerBook.
RIM approaches the federal government about providing employees with BlackBerrys at cost. The government declines. Years later, Canada pays a whole lot more for a similar contract.
Enter the BlackBerry as we know it today. Concentrating on email, it's available through 25 or so carriers worldwide.
RIM launches its revolutionary BlackBerry Messenger, a social networking service that proved its most popular feature ever.
A stock scandal knocks Balsillie out of his role as chairman of the board. The Ontario Securities Commission fines Balsillie, Lazaridis and another RIM executive $9 million each, and orders them to repay the company $68 million after they're caught backdating stocks to make prices more attractive.
Barack Obama becomes the first president to carry a smartphone - and it's a BlackBerry.
Balsillie begins a bizarre public campaign to bring an NHL team to southern Ontario. He frequently appears in a tuxedo. Meanwhile, Lazaridis begins travelling around Waterloo with armed body guards.
RIM's phone operating system is peaking at close to 40 per cent of market share.
August 15, 2008
After an impressive earnings quarter, RIM splits its stock, offering a 3-for-1 deal. It's an attempt to make individual shares more affordable, increase sales and drive up the price. But RIM stock prices never recover. Still, it remains the fundamental reason shares are so low.
A group of Mideast and Asian nations demand the ability to monitor their citizens' BlackBerry messages. An international row ensues. In April, Lazaridis suggests to a BBC reporter that countries are singling out RIM because of its success, and then storms out of the interview.
April 19, 2011
Almost a year after announcing it, RIM releases the PlayBook, a meek entry in the tablet market that's sold only 850,000 units to date.
July 21, 2011
Amid investor fears, declining market share and the appearance of an embarrassing critical leaked memo from a RIM executive, the media turns on the once adored company. NOW Magazine urges RIM to relocate from Waterloo to a more mature business centre, like Toronto.
Worldwide BlackBerry outages cause panic, frustration, sadness and the first bit of humility from RIM's CEOs. "You expect better from us, and I expect better from us," Lazaridis says in a video message to users.
January 23, 2012
Lazaridis and Balisilie resign. Thorsten Heins is appointed new CEO. When he takes to the airwaves to announce he's more confident than ever in BlackBerry, and in particular the QNX operating system that debuted in the failed PlayBook. Share prices plummet. Will the company ever be the same?