Jim Balsillie announced that RIM have signed an accord with Singapore’s Flextronics to manufacture the Curve 8520 in Brazil. This is part of a greater market strategy at RIM to target Latin America, which Jim once described as an upcoming Western Europe. “It is extremely important for us to be here to manufacture locally and sell locally,” Basillie said in an interview in Sao Paulo, where he is on a visit. RIM currently manufactures devices in Mexio, which has helped them secure about 35% of the mobile phone device market in Latin America.
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Old pic from a fundraiser. Balsillie (right) and Shane Pegg, sales manager at RIM (left).
Jim Balsillie seems to have moved on from hockey for the time being and has his sights set on the Tour de France. After an email from Lance Armstrong, Jim was introduced to Steve Bauer, a retired professional cyclist who won 14 yellow jerseys in the Tour de France in the 1990s. Bauer has been trying to create a Canadian Tour de France team for a long time now but with a lack of funding it wasn’t happening. Balsillie has stepped in and today Bauer will unveil his new team at a Toronto press conference.
During the Q3 Fiscal 2010 Conference Call, Jim Balsillie announced a partnership with China Telecom to distribute BlackBerry across China. China Telecom is the 3rd largest mobile provider in the People’s Republic of China. The network supports 3G and has over 43 million mobile subscribers. This is a huge distribution deal for RIM and it’s crucial for their growth in China. More details and a launch plan to come.
Ice Edge Holdings have withdrawn from the auction for the Phoenix Coyotes, leaving only Jim Balsillie and the NHL left in the auction.
PSE Sports and Entertainment, the company used by Jim Balsillie to bid for the team, have recently upped their bid potential to $242.5 million USD. The condition of the bid of course, is that the team be relocated to Hamilton in order to give Canada its 7th hockey team.
The NHL is bidding $140 million, but plans to sell the team immediately after acquiring it.
So lets take a look at the last two candidates:
Jim Balsillie – Hockey lover, esteemed business man and the largest bidder.
The NHL – Protectionist boobs who want to flip the team like an old house.
According to the Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, “the league intends to resell the franchise as promptly as possible, hopefully to an approved owner who will keep the club in Glendale.” But Glendale have already shot themselves in the foot on this one. They had the chance to come to an agreement with Ice Edge Holdings, but it wasn’t going to happen. While it’s not clear why, Ice Edge told the media “We couldn’t get there with the City of Glendale.”
So the City is too greedy and the NHL are bidding too low for a franchise they don’t even want.
Can this please be over with already?
Things are getting pretty heated between Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Jim Balsillie.
Recently, Balsillie was rejected as a potential owner of the Phoenix Coyotes by the league’s governors because he was deemed to be lacking “good character and integrity.” Jim responded by suggesting in a document filed to the bankruptcy court that “the NHL has long tolerated indicted and even convicted criminals among its ranks.”
The Melnyk and Balsillie trouble started when Balsillie singled out Melnyk, who was fined $1-million for alleged violations of the Canadian Securities Act and ordered to step down as director of his company, Biovail, for one year. Sound familiar?
Both Mr. Melnyk and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly fired back at Mr. Balsillie. “I have watched with some dismay Jim Balsillie’s fall from being a deserving business icon to what now appears to be a desperate man willing to say anything or do anything to buy an NHL franchise,” Mr. Melnyk said in a release.
“In a recent legal filing, he dragged me into his hurricane of legal filings and panicked pleas and cited me as someone who is lacking the personal integrity to own the Ottawa Senators hockey franchise. I’ve tried to reach Jim through his office to find out why he would say something like this about me — we barely know each other– but I’ve received no response.”
“I will say in response publicly that his willingness to drag down anyone he can get his hands on along with him is discouraging and saddens me. Jim and I both found great success in our Canadian businesses. And that is where the comparisons stop.”
Balsillie also took aim at Bruce McNall, owner of the LA Kings, who was sentenced to almost six years in prison for defrauding several banks of more than US$236-million.
While it may be a good strategy to point out the inconsistencies in what the NHL is saying, it’s my personal opinion that Balsillie should have simply focused on the good he does, rather than the bad things others have done. Balsillie has a plethora of ventures that are indicative of a businessman with character and who invests in the country and institutions that brought him success. Here are just a few from his Wiki:
- In 2000, Balsillie provided $10 million of personal funds towards the founding of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, adding to the $100 million already contributed by fellow RIM executive Mike Lazaridis.
- In 2002, Balsillie founded the Centre for International Governance Innovation with $30 million of personal funds.
- In 2007, Balsillie donated $50 million to the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Centre for International Governance Innovation as part of a $100 million initiative to create the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
Sure, Balsillie has made some aggressive business moves and does leverage the media to get what he wants, but none of this suggests a man who lacks character.
RIM named Fortune’s number 1 Fastest Growing Company.
RIM’s booming sales have made it Fortune’s number 1 Fastest Growing Company. Over the past decade, RIM has sold around 65 million phones to over 28.5 million subscribers. This has grown RIM’s stock market capitalization from $96 million to $42 billion in the process. BlackBerry devices continue to dominate the smartphone market with a 56% share of the $12 billion U.S. in revenue.
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie are confident that RIM can handle their rate of growth but Lazaridis admits that “sometimes we have to put the brakes on.” He goes on to say, “We’ve shown that we can handle annual 100% growth. I’m not sure we could handle more than that.”
The history of RIM is well known but Fortune’s interview reveals an incredible sales strategy on the part of Balsillie that solidified BlackBerry as the corporate standard. As Jim made constant trips back and forth between the US and Canada, he would meet with enterprise customers all over North America. “Every time I’d go up there and present, I’d sit there and ask, ‘Who here uses Microsoft Exchange?’” he remembers. “And two-thirds would raise their hands. Then I’d say, ‘Who here would like to get e-mail on their belt for free?’” He collected business cards and sent “e-mail evangelists” — kids just out of college — back to get the bankers up and running. Within a year the BlackBerry had become a staple on Wall Street. “It was a puppy dog sale,” he says. “‘Take a puppy dog home, and if you don’t like it, bring it back.’ They never come back.”
Continue reading about Balsillie and Lazaridis’ past, current and future strategy for RIM and BlackBerry