Mike Lazaridis

Mike Lazaridis

Mihal (Michael) Lazaridis (born 1961, Istanbul, Turkey) is the founder and co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), which created and manufactures the wildly popular BlackBerry personal digital assistant (PDA). He is also the chancellor of the University of Waterloo, the university he dropped out of very shortly before graduation.

Early life and education

His Greek parents moved from Turkey to Windsor, Ontario in 1966. In 1980, he enrolled at the University of Waterloo. He dropped out in 1985 shortly before graduation, having been offered a lucrative contract from General Motors for the nascent RIM.

He is married to Ophelia Lazaridis. They have two children, Cleo and Kern.

Philanthropic work

On October 23, 2000, Lazaridis founded the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics with $100 million of personal funds, along with $10 million contributions from fellow RIM executives Jim Balsillie and Doug Fregin.

On April 30, 2004, Lazaridis and his wife together donated $33.3 million to the University of Waterloo for its Institute for Quantum Computing.

On May 3, 2005, Lazaridis gave an additional $17.2 million to the University of Waterloo, primarily to aid the construction of a new building jointly shared by the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Nanotechnology Engineering program.

Awards and accolades

He received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from UW, and in June 2003 became its 8th chancellor. He was named Canada's Nation Builder of the Year for 2002 by readers of the Globe and Mail newspaper, and has received various other accolades as a result of his financial success and philanthropic efforts.