Battle For Telecom Empire Is the Latest High-Profile Example of Butt-Dialing

When corporate plots go very wrong

Rogers Communications
Rogers Communications logo displayed on a smartphone and a pc screen.
Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Have cellphones made our lives better or worse since they became ubiquitous? It’s a subject that could be discussed for days without one side or the other prevailing. But there’s one advantage that land lines have over their more portable counterparts — namely, that it’s really hard to butt-dial someone via a phone mounted on a wall or resting on a table.

Now, in most cases, the result of a call accidentally triggered by a phone in someone’s bag or pocket is going to be nearly impossible to understand by the dialed party. That isn’t always the case, however — and sometimes, there can be serious consequences resulting from the call.

You might recall the time in 2019 when Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed a reporter while having a discussion about various business dealings, for one thing. A recent report in Air Mail about a conflict at the heart of Canadian telecommunications empire Rogers Communication reveals yet another high-profile instance where a butt-dialed call had substantial consequences.

At the center of this particular conflict is the clash between Martha and Ed Rogers, the children of the late Ted Rogers — founder of the telecom empire in question — who have been vying for control over the company for the last few years. The quick version of what happened next is this: the CFO of Rogers was enmeshed in a plan wherein he would replace the existing CEO of the company.

The CFO was discussing this plan with the company’s chief legal officer when he butt-dialed the CEO, who was able to hear their conversation. The CEO reacted the way that most people would upon learning of a plan where they would be pushed out of a company — he struck back, culminating in the CFO’s departure instead.

All of which is to say that if you’re engaging in high-level corporate or political subterfuge, maybe it’s useful to have your phone in your line of vision, just to make you haven’t let anyone unexpected listen in.

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