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What is Jim Balsillie’s Net Worth?

James “Jim” Balsillie is a Canadian businessman who has a net worth of $800 million. Jim Balsillie served as the chair and co-CEO of the software company Research in Motion, later known as BlackBerry. He ultimately left the company amid its financial struggles in 2012. Among his entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors, Balsillie founded the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and the Canadian Council of Innovators.

At the peak of Research In Motion’s power, James Balsillie had a net worth of $2.3 billion. As Apple’s iPhone grew to dominate the cell phone market, RIM’s stock went on a steep decline wiping away a large percentage of his fortune. A massive hockey fan, James Balsillie has made several attempts to own an NHL team.  So far his attempts have been unsuccessful.

(Harry How/Getty Images)

Early Life and Education

Jim Balsillie was born on February 3, 1961 in Seaforth, Ontario, Canada to Laurel and Raymond. When he was five years old, he moved with his family to Peterborough. For his higher education, Balsillie attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto, from which he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1984. He went on to obtain a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1989.

Career Beginnings

Following his graduation from Harvard Business School, Balsillie served as an executive vice president and CFO of technology at Sutherland-Schultz, a design and construction services company based in Cambridge, Ontario. He remained at the company until 1992, when Sutherland-Schultz was sold to the Vollmer Group.

(Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)

Research in Motion / BlackBerry

In 1992, Balsillie made overtures to buy the software company Research in Motion which was co-founded by Doug Fregin and Mike Lazaridis. He ended up investing $125,000 in the company and joining as its co-CEO, alongside founder Mike Lazaridis. While Lazaridis oversaw the technological side of the company, Balsillie looked after the sales and accounting side. Research in Motion had great success throughout the 1990s, leading the mobile phone and pager industry with its BlackBerry brand of products. However, the company struggled in the new millennium against the competition of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, which eventually took over market dominance. Balsillie resigned from his role as chairman of RIM in 2007, but retained his positions as director and co-CEO.

In 2009, Balsillie was forced to resign from his director role at RIM due to his past stock option accounting errors, which were considered by the Ontario Securities Commission to be a “fundamental failure of governance.” He was ultimately reappointed to the board in 2010 after the OSC sanctions expired. By the end of 2011, Balsillie was the third-largest shareholder in RIM. However, the company was seriously struggling at that time, having cut 2,000 employees while its share value declined precipitously. In early 2012, Balsillie and co-CEO Lazaridis resigned from their positions, and were replaced by Thorsten Heins. Two months after that, Balsillie stepped down from the board of directors due to business disagreements with Heins.

NHL Ownership Bids 

Balsillie has thrice tried and failed to purchase an NHL franchise with the intention of moving it to Hamilton, Ontario. The first attempt was in 2006, when he made a bid to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins for $185 million before withdrawing the bid two months later. Next, in 2007, Balsillie reached a tentative agreement to purchase the Nashville Predators from Craig Leipold; ultimately, Leipold declined to sign the agreement. In 2009, Balsillie made an offer to buy the Phoenix Coyotes in the wake of the team’s filing for bankruptcy protection in Arizona. His bid was ultimately rejected by Judge Redfield T. Baum, who prohibited him from making the purchase from the bankruptcy trustee.


Substantially involved in philanthropy, Balsillie founded the Centre for International Governance Innovation in 2001. An independent, non-partisan think tank based in Waterloo, Ontario, CIGI supports research, creates networks, and promotes policy debate. In 2007, Balsillie founded the Balsillie School of International Affairs as a collaborative partnership between CIGI, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University. One of the largest social sciences initiatives in Canada, the BSIA is housed in the north and west wings of the CIGI Campus. Among his other philanthropic endeavors, Balsillie is the founder and chair of the Canadian Council of Innovators.

Personal Life

With his ex-wife Heidi, to whom he was wed from 1989 until their separation in 2011, Balsillie has two children named James and Rachel.

In 2023, Balsillie was portrayed by Glenn Howerton in the biographical film “BlackBerry.” Balsillie praised the accuracy of Howerton’s performance and called it “brilliant.”

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.

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