Mike Lazaridis

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Mike Lazaridis
Mike Lazaridis portrait via the Royal Society
8th Chancellor of the University of Waterloo
In office
Preceded byVal O'Donovan
Succeeded byPrem Watsa
President/Vice Chancellor
David Johnston
Personal details
Mihal Lazaridis

(1961-03-14) March 14, 1961 (age 62)[1]
Istanbul, Turkey
Alma materUniversity of Waterloo (dropped out in 1984, honorary degree in 2000)
OccupationFounder & Managing Partner, Quantum Valley Investments Founder, BlackBerry Limited
Known for

Mihal "Mike" Lazaridis OC OOnt FRS (born March 14, 1961) is a Canadian businessman, investor in quantum computing technologies, and founder of BlackBerry, which created and manufactured the BlackBerry wireless handheld device. With an estimated net worth of US$800 million (as of June 2011), Lazaridis was ranked by Forbes as the 17th wealthiest Canadian and 651st in the world.[3]

Lazaridis served in various positions including co-chairman and co-CEO of BlackBerry from 1984 to 2012 and Board Vice Chair and Chair of the Innovation Committee from 2012 to 2013. As an advocate for the power of basic science to improve and transform the world,[4] he co-founded Quantum Valley Investments in March 2013 with childhood friend and BlackBerry co-founder Douglas Fregin to provide financial and intellectual capital for the further development and commercialization of breakthroughs in quantum information science.[5] In 1999 he founded the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where he also serves as board chair.[6] In 2002, he founded the Institute for Quantum Computing.[7] He is also a former chancellor of the University of Waterloo, and an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC).

Personal, education, and career history[edit]

Lazaridis was born in Istanbul, Turkey, to Pontic Greek parents, Nick and Dorothy Lazaridis with original lineage to the island of Chios. He was five years old when his family moved to Canada in 1966, settling in Windsor, Ontario.[1] At age 12, he won a prize at the Windsor Public Library for reading every science book in the library.[8]

In 1979, he enrolled at the University of Waterloo in electrical engineering with an option in computer science. In 1984, Lazaridis responded to a request for proposal from General Motors (GM) to develop a network computer control display system.[9] GM awarded him a contract. He dropped out of university that year, just two months before he was scheduled to graduate. The GM contract, a small government grant, and a loan from Lazaridis's parents enabled Lazaridis, Mike Barnstijn, and Douglas Fregin to launch Research In Motion. One of the company's first achievements was the development of barcode technology for film. RIM plowed the profits from that into wireless data transmission research, eventually leading to the introduction of the BlackBerry wireless mobile device in 1999, and its better-known version in 2002.

Lazaridis and his wife Ophelia have also been noted for their philanthropic work in the Waterloo area.


In 2000, Lazaridis founded and donated more than $170 million to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.[10][11] He and his wife Ophelia founded and donated more than $100 million to the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in 2002.[7] In 2015, Lazaridis donated $20 million to Wilfrid Laurier University for a new technology-focused management institute at the business school, which was renamed in his honour as the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics.[12][13][14]

Awards and honours[edit]

On October 21, 1999, Lazaridis received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the University of Waterloo, and in June 2003, he became its eighth chancellor. He was listed on Maclean's Honour Roll as a distinguished Canadian in 2000 and named Canada's Nation Builder of the Year for 2002 by readers of The Globe and Mail newspaper. In 2006, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario.[15] In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[16] His nomination reads:

Father of what has become known as the smartphone, Mike Lazaridis is recognized in the global wireless community as a visionary, innovator and engineer of extraordinary talent. He is the founder of RIM and the creator of the BlackBerry. Since 1999, he has made the primary donations establishing the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and the University of Waterloo Quantum-Nano Centre. The Perimeter Institute has already become an international beacon for theoretical physics and IQC is widely regarded as the leading centre of quantum information science worldwide. Together, these institutes have transformed physics in Canada and made a major impact internationally.[2]

Lazaridis received an Academy Award in 1999 for technical achievements relating to the creation of a high-speed barcode reader used in film editing.[17] The same invention received an Emmy in 1994.[18]

Lazaridis is portrayed in the 2023 film BlackBerry by Jay Baruchel.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mike Lazaridis | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Mike Lazaridis | Royal Society". royalsociety.org.
  3. ^ "Forbes World's Billionaires List 2021Forbes World's Billionaires List | The Richest in 2021". Forbes.
  4. ^ "RIM co-founder donates $50M to Waterloo physics centre". CBC News. June 5, 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  5. ^ Quantum Valley | Media Centre. Quantum Valley Investments (2013-03-19). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  6. ^ "Homepage | Perimeter Institute". perimeterinstitute.ca.
  7. ^ a b "Quick facts". About Waterloo. University of Waterloo. 2015. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Article on Mihalis Lazaridis".
  9. ^ Lazaridis, Mike, How I got started, The BlackBerry Boss, Fortune Magazine, April 27, 2009, p.20
  10. ^ Magueijo, J. O. (2009). "Howard's end at Perimeter". Nature. 461 (7263): 477. Bibcode:2009Natur.461..477M. doi:10.1038/461477a.
  11. ^ Hand, E. (2009). "Physics: The edge of physics". Nature. 461 (7263): 462–5. doi:10.1038/461462a. PMID 19779427.
  12. ^ Lewington, Jennifer (8 September 2015). "Wilfrid Laurier University names business school for Mike Lazaridis". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  13. ^ "The Lazaridis Hall building". Wilfrid Laurier University. 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  14. ^ "New management school at Wilfrid Laurier to focus on global business". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Order of Ontario appointments announced". Archived from the original on January 9, 2007.
  16. ^ "Perimeter Founder Elected to Royal Society". Perimeter Institute. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  17. ^ Anderssen, Erin (2002-12-27). "Mike Lazaridis, 2002". The Globe and Mail.
  18. ^ Hicks, Jesse (2012-02-21). "Research, no motion: How the BlackBerry CEOs lost an empire". The Verge. Retrieved 2023-03-13.
  19. ^ Johnson, Matt, BlackBerry (Comedy, Drama), Rhombus Media, Zapruder Films, Téléfilm Canada, retrieved 2022-12-08

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Company Founded 1984
BlackBerry Co-CEO (with Jim Balsillie)
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Waterloo
Succeeded by