Mihalis "Mike" Lazaridis, OC, O.Ont (born March 14, 1961, Istanbul, Turkey) is the founder and CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), which created and manufactures the BlackBerry wireless handheld device. He is also a former chancellor of the University of Waterloo, and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Born in Turkey to Greek parents, Lazaridis 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 to develop a network computer control display system.. GM awarded him a $500,000 contract. He dropped out of college that year, just two months before he was scheduled to graduate. The GM contract, a small government grant and a $15,000 loan from Lazaridis' parents enabled Lazaridis, Mike Barnstijn and Douglas Fregin to launch RIM. One of the company's first achievements was the development of bar code technology for film; RIM plowed the profits from that into wireless data transmission; this led to the Blackberry's introduction.
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.