Dude, chill out: RIM director goes on angry rant against 'critics'

Board member Roger Martin mocks 'geniuses who have all these clever thoughts about business models'

Attention all morons and children from outside the hallowed walls of Research in Motion: If RIM had followed your clueless and uninformed advice over the past few years, it might have ended up like Apple! Is that what you would have wanted?

Well, not the Apple that today is the largest tech company in the world. That probably would be a good thing. We're talking about the Apple that forced out co-founder Steve Jobs in 1985 and proceeded to stumble badly for years under dim-witted leaders who seemed incapable of developing products that the market wanted.

Because apparently the only options facing RIM as it began losing market share to Apple's iPhone and smartphones powered by Google's Android OS were: Continue to be led by co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis -- a genius! -- or panic and hire some imbecilic "outsider" who probably would drive RIM's U.S. smartphone market share down to 6% or something.

This is the general viewpoint expressed by RIM director Roger Martin in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

Martin's quotes are incredibly defensive, emotional, dismissive and intellectually dishonest. They bring to mind comments to Business Insider last year from a former RIM worker who said the BlackBerry maker's top management "brim with hubris."

Last month, in response to mounting pressure from shareholders, Balsillie and Lazaridis resigned as co-CEOs and board chairs. Chief operating officer Thorsten Heins became the new CEO and also took a seat on the board.

Here's some of what Martin said in the interview with the Globe and Mail:

“I laugh at the vast majority of critics when they say ‘Oh, you should have made this CEO transition, like, four years ago.’ Yeah, right – like, to who?” Mr. Martin scoffs over lunch at Mideastro, a favourite restaurant in Toronto’s Yorkville.

“So we’re supposed to hand it over to children, or morons from the outside who will destroy the company?” he says. “Or should we try to build our way to having succession?”

No, Roger, I think the "critics" had in mind finding a competent executive with experience in the mobile and consumer markets, rather than a child or moron. Finding that person, by the way, is the board's responsibility, not ours. Though I guess if we "critics" had known what an impossible task that is, we wouldn't have offered our simplistic suggestion in the first place.

If there's one thing Martin, a business school dean and management consultant, really hates, it's when those idiotic critics start babbling about Apple.

He points out that Apple dismissed its own co-founder Steve Jobs in the mid-1980s in favour of an outside marketing specialist, only to bring Mr. Jobs back, laying the foundation for its current exalted status.

“They ask ‘Why can’t you be more like Apple?’ So we should go bankrupt and fire our founders and bring in a moron? That’s what we should do?” Mr. Martin says.

At the risk of speaking for all of the "critics," I can safely say none were suggesting RIM try to be like Apple at its lowest point. Most of us believe RIM is close to accomplishing that. We were thinking you should try to be more like the "successful" Apple.

He is also dismissive of analysts who would scrap RIM’s integrated business model, getting out of hardware and licensing its software. That was the tack taken by successors to Apple’s Mr. Jobs, but when he returned to the fold, he reinstated the integrated platform.

“So that is what the geniuses who have all these clever thoughts about business models are saying – and a big piece of me just laughs: Have you no memory? Do you not even think?”

Was this guy drinking during the lunch or what? He really seems angry, even petulant.

While it's likely that RIM's "critics," along with the morons and children from the outside world, will find Martin's unhinged rant somewhat amusing, I suspect shareholders might consider it more disturbing evidence of the insular thinking that got RIM in trouble in the first place.

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