Former Shaw Communications CEO Jim Shaw dead at 60 after brief illness by Meghan Potkins
Jan 4, 2018
Source: Star Phoenix
Jim Shaw, the often-colourful former chief executive of Shaw Communications Inc., who stepped down from the Calgary-based telecom giant in 2010, has died. He was 60.
His family confirmed in a statement Wednesday evening that Shaw, who remained the company’s vice-chairman, died earlier in the day following a brief illness.
“As a family, our hearts are heavy with sadness,” his brother, Brad, the CEO of Shaw Communications, said in the statement.
“I have not only lost a brother, but a great friend and mentor. Our lives will not be as complete without hearing Jim’s laughter or getting the benefit of his counsel or his insight.”
Shaw’s 12 years as CEO coincided with a period of significant growth for the company, with revenues rising from $646 million in 1998 to $3.7 billion by 2010 — fuelled in part by deals including an asset swap with Rogers to acquire territory in Vancouver and B.C.’s lower mainland.
He also presided over the company as it built its platform for internet services.
“Jim’s countless contributions to our company are integral to Shaw’s long-term strength and growth as a Canadian industry leader,” Brad Shaw said.
“As an operator, a deal-maker and a strategist, Jim continued building the foundation started by our father, JR, to create a Canadian business leader and household brand across Western Canada.”
Edward Rogers, chairman of Rogers Communications Inc., also expressed sadness at the news in a statement released late Wednesday.
“We have known Jim for many years and we are truly saddened to hear about his passing. Jim was a brilliant man and a fierce competitor,” Rogers said. “He was a confident entrepreneur who had a transformative and lasting impact on the Canadian cable landscape. He will surely be missed.”
Shaw’s tenure at the company will also be remembered for the flamboyant executive’s outspoken and outsized personality.
A university dropout, Shaw started at the bottom, completing home cable installations before rising through the company’s ranks.
And once he’d succeeded his father as CEO, Shaw didn’t shy away from controversy, engaging in public spats with the CRTC over the Canadian Television Fund and mocking the CBC and other networks for producing publicly funded programs that “nobody wants to watch.”
He famously attended an industry conference wearing a Harley-Davidson biker jacket and head scarf.
Locally, Shaw attracted some controversy in 2011 after he sought to rezone a small parcel of land on McHugh Bluff adjacent to his Crescent Heights home so that he could expand his yard. The purchase was approved by council, but Shaw would ultimately sell the luxury home in 2013 for a then city-record $11.1 million.
He was also known for his philanthropic contributions, donating to charities and serving on the boards of the University of Alberta and Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School south of Calgary. In 2014, Shaw and his wife, Kathryn, donated $19 million to his alma mater, Shawnigan Lake School, on Vancouver Island.