Big day for Research in Motion (Nasdaq:RIMM) BlackBerry 10 is coming out full frontal. What to think? Probably enough to keep Research in Motion in the game. No longer a smart phone leader but an important segment player. Value investors please note large corporate and government base pays its bills on time.
About two minutes after the launch the question will become whats next? How do we keep this rolling? So does the board have the leadership skills that are needed at the time. Lets take a look at the depth chart. But first remember that this board was packaged up in a crisis and not painstaking assembled over time.
Barbara Stymiest is the chair. Financial background. Economist by training. she headed up Toronto Stock exchange and was senior but not quite top dog at Royal Bank of Canada. A more than competent business women. But her pedigree is managing large dominant financial organizations. She is not a technology type like Marissa Mayer. However as smartphones become electronic wallets replacing cash, debit and credit cards she may be very uniquely suited in guiding Research in Motion. Otherwise in the interim she makes investors comfortable but eventually needs to go.
David Kerr is the wheeler-dealer who has become the elder statesman. Started with Touche Ross worked for the Bronfman Family at Edper and Brascan. holds a few board positions in some Canadian blue chips. Lots of seasoning that makes nervous investors in a crisis comfortable. But has nothing to offer a growing technology concern.
Roger Martin is primarily a very well-respected professor and dean at Rotman School of Business. Some think he is the heir to Peter Drucker as a management guru. Strategic thinking good. Specific thinking about technology, smart phones there is no game.
Prem Watsa some feel is the DNA equivalent to Warren Buffett. His continued support helped stabilize a lot of panicked investors. However Warren Buffett does not sit on the boards of all his investments. He is one step removed and can buy and sell as he wishes. Prem Watsa is really too close to the situation. Even recovering companies hit rough spots. can he always give an honest thumbs up about everything RIM does? We all know it just does not work that way.
John Richardson has had a stellar career with several of Canada’s largest financial institutions. But at the age of 80 does he have the outlook the a growing tech company needs.
John Wetmore in addition to RIMM sits on the board of Loblaws and some philanthropic entities. He was the former President and Chairman of IBM Canada. But IBM Canada and RIMM are not exactly peas in a pod. Expertise and skills are not the best fit.
Timothy David Dattels seems to be very involved with Asian Affairs. He does not seem to have the big hook ups in Asia that could benefit RIMM. He was part of the fire brigade that responded to the crisis.
Claudia B. Kotchka has the only resume that I liked. She formerly was Vice President-Design Innovation & Strategy by Procter & Gamble Co. But P&G is consumer oriented. I don`t think Research in Motion has a mass market orientation. at least not now.
Antonio Pedro de Carvalho Viana-Baptista has an extensive background with telephone companies in Latin America primarily. At this point I don`t see RIMM talking about any strengths in Latin America.
So basically the current board is the fire brigade that showed up in a rush and panic. This is not the board to lead to serious wealth maximization. Best of luck with the Blackberry 10 but you need to change out the board.
George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. Follow him on twitter@financialskepti or maybe follow his evil twin who is writing a Wall Street Murder Thriller at twitter@georgegutowski