Mike Lazaridis is a Greek-Canadian businessman, investor in quantum computing technologies, and founder of BlackBerry, which created and manufactured the BlackBerry wireless handheld device. 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 a passionate advocate for the power of basic science to improve and transform the world, 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.
In 1999 he founded Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where he also serves as Board Chair. In 2002, he founded the Institute for Quantum Computing. He is also a former chancellor of the University of Waterloo, and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
“We transformed the way
Lazaridis was born March 14, 1961 in Istanbul, Turkey, to Greek parents 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.
At age 12, he won a prize at the Windsor Public Library for reading every science book in the library. 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 (commonly known as GM) to develop a network computer control display system. 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 (RIM). 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.