BlackBerry and Privatization: The Return of Mike Lazardis




By Thea Neuman (Google)

There’s been a lot of noise lately regarding BlackBerry’s supposed privatization deal. Prem Watsa stepping down from the board stating conflict of interest was a major indicator of a potential privatization bid. Frankly, privatization might be a wrong move right now. Maybe a couple of years ago, when the company was going through a rebuilding phase, privatization would have made a lot of sense. Having said that, I may also be completely wrong with that assessment. But speaking from an employee point of view, going private now might help the overall morale and keep them charged up for the future.

Mike Lazardis quit from official position but kept his BlackBerry shares. Most probably he was just watching from the sidelines, waiting to jump into action if his beloved mind-child went downhill at any stage. Prem Watsa’s involvement with the privatization bid has now changed things entirely. Lazardis’ 5.7% has the potential to make all the difference. Although we can safely assume that Lazardis will not be too eager to dispose of his share of the company. Watsa’s Fairfax Financials too owns 10% of the company’s shares currently.

Now given Watsa’s involvement, we can also speculate on Lazardis’ involvement as well, considering their very close friendship. This might mean that Lazardis will be making a comeback to the company. This would be Lazardis’ preferred option as the alternative would mean that he completely cuts himself off from the company. Somehow, I don’t see that happening.

Let’s assume that a deal, as mentioned, does go down and Mike Lazardis returns to BlackBerry. It would be interesting to see what sort of role he would be in. Odds are that Mike won’t be pushing to retake the top job. Mike was the one who favored Thorsten Heins getting the top job after him. So then this would imply that Mike might return to something of a high level advisory position. Personally, seeing Mike in an advisory or even a supervisory position would serve the company’s interests better than him returning to the CEO’s chair.

Just to be clear, there is no hidden comparison of Thorsten Heins Vs Mike Lazardis. Both are great leaders. Keeping Mike away from the everyday decision making, however, would be sensible. In spite of his famed brilliance, he does have a penchant for rejecting design ideas that he deems would be of no use. Let’s face it; Mike believed that people wouldn’t be interested in having cameras, touch screens, attachment viewing or even color schemes on their phones. The best position for Mike, post his return (at this point, we assume he has returned) would be to be in a more entrepreneurial duty. Visionary industry changes and M2M market management would thrive under Mike’s able guidance. Ultimately, all anyone wants is the company’s complete success.

BlackBerry and Privatization: The Return of Mike Lazardis

Clearing the air, I’m not officially announcing Mike Lazardis’ return to BlackBerry. Although I would like to wager that he will, given his friendship with Prem Watsa and his great emotional attachment with the company that he helped build. Having Mike back at the table would certainly shake things up a little bit.

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