BlackBerry co-founders knocked off billionaires' list

With the shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) getting drubbing after its less-than-expected first quarter results and poor forecasts, co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are no longer billionaires, Forbes said Thursday.

According to it, the net worth of RIM's high-profile cofounders has sunk.

"Both entrepreneurs easily made our annual ranking of the World Billionaires in March, when RIM was trading above $60. Lazaridis was then worth $1.9 billion, and Balsillie $1.8 billion. These days they appear to be worth in the neighborhood of $800 million or so,'' Forbes said.

From its value of $83 billion in June 2008, RIM has sunk to $14 billion today thanks to massive cuts into market share by Apple's iPhone and Google Android devices as well as delay in replacing its aging handset line-up.

RIM stock has lost more than 50 percent of its value since January.

Though the stock rebounded more than five percent Thursday to close at $29.14, this is not "a heck of a lot' of relief for investors, Forbes said.

Lazaridis and Balsillie, who have been running the company together since 1992 and hold 10 percent shares, made their debuts among the world's wealthiest in 2007 and have been on the list for the past five consecutive years, according to the report.  "Their fortunes peaked in 2008, at $3.6 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively. (At its height that year, the company was worth five times as much as it is today).''

Interestingly, charity has cost the BlackBerry co-founders their position on the billionaires' list.

According to Forbes, Lazaridis has donated $100 million to his alma mater and hometown University of Waterloo to help establish an Institute for Quantum Computing and personally invested $150 million in the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI).

Balsillie has also made massive donations for founding The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) to focus on restructuring international governance, creating the new Canadian International Council (CIC) and establishing the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

"Both men have been regularly selling shares earmarked for their charitable ventures. Had they not given away so much, they'd still have lost a bundle in the past few months but they would have remained billionaires,'' Forbes said.

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