Jim Balsillie has had his share of visionary moments. His recognition of the potential of the tech Mike Lazaridis was developing is Exhibit A. He has also (surprising for his brash nature) been known to forge deep individual relationships with well-heeled investors, bankers, and the executives who run carriers all around the world.

He has also had more than his fair share of utter failures to recognize the mood of either the general market or small groups of people. He has been shockingly indifferent to the opinions and feelings of analysts and investors at shareholder meetings. He seems to have made enemies for life out of every owner in the NHL (it's not just Gary Bettman and Mario Lemieux who don't want anything to do with him). Most importantly, though, he was brutally dismissive of the products Apple was putting out from 2007 to 2010.

If Balsillie had been advising a hedge fund in 2008, I suspect he would have recommended putting a massive short position on Apple and a massive long on RIM.

Am I going too far there? Keep in mind that, in the early 2000s, JB was the guy who refused to pay something like $57 million to settle the patent lawsuit brought by NTP. In fairness, I think JB and RIM were right in this case, but the end result was that RIM had to pay $612.5 million.

That lawsuit helped lead to a corporate structure at RIM which was essentially dominated by the legal department. Pretty well every initiative had to be vetted "by Legal," meaning long delays, and then on top of that Balsillie instituted a system of management which favoured corporate ladder-climbers and experts on manipulating the evaluation system, lowered morale, and drove a lot of the top tier of creative & driven software engineers to other companies.

In fact, drove them to companies like... QNX! And now the company has circled the "rim" so to speak and has bounced back into the game as the new "BlackBerry."