The last things Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) needs right about now are golden parachutes.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what it gave to its ex-co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. The company just disclosed that amid the management shakeup that dethroned the duo and handed over the key to the sinking ship to Thorsten Heins, Lazaridis is taking home a compensation package worth about $4 million, while Balsillie's parachute is worth just under $8 million.
How does the company justify such a hefty payout amid the company's spectacular fall from grace at the hands of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android? Because the pair "revolutionized the worldwide wireless industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry and forever changed how the world communicates." Under a decade of their leadership, RIM grew annual sales from $294 million to nearly $20 billion.
What the company didn't point out is how Balsillie and Lazaridis underestimated the rise of iOS and Android and failed to adapt amid the brutal competitive landscape.
At the rate that RIM continues to lose market share, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows Phone has a chance of occupying the third-place spot in the mobile landscape.
This payout is just embarrassing, although it's not nearly as bad as Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ ) severance payout last year for Leo Apotheker, who destroyed much more value in much less time and got paid out much more.
It's even more embarrassing considering that Balsillie and Lazaridis had voluntarily slashed their annual salaries to $1 in a symbolic move to boost investor confidence, only to resign three weeks later and get this hefty payout.
Meanwhile, other execs continue to abandon ship en masse. Heins will be steering an empty boat before long.
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