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Row 44 hires former chief executive

October 25, 2010 | 12:45 pm


Row 44 Inc., which provides broadband Internet connection for airline passengers, announced Monday that former Chief Executive Howard Lefkowitz recently joined the company as chief commercial officer.

In his new role with the firm, Lefkowitz will be selling advertising opportunites to businesses on Row 44's inflight Internet portal. He will have a role in marketing to airlines.

This is key because the Westlake Village company recently raised $37 million from investors to persuade international carriers to outfit their planes with Row 44 equipment that gives passengers Wi-Fi connection while flying.

Row 44 hopes Lefkowitz can build on business connections that he made during his nine-year tenure as president and chief executive of

When Lefkowitz joined the travel website in 2001, it was a small startup with about 20 employees. When he left in August, the site, with  400 workers and 2.5 million Internet visitors a month, described itself as the "largest city destination travel website in the world."

As a 25-employee firm, Row 44 hopes Lefkowitz can bring the same stroke of luck.

Row 44, named after the last row on a DC-10 commercial jet, uses a network of telecommunications satellites belonging to Hughes Network Systems. By tapping into Hughes' network, Row 44 has the potential capability to provide worldwide Internet access.

In January, Row 44 landed a contract with Southwest Airlines to provide Wi-Fi service on the airline’s fleet of more than 540 planes.

-- W.J. Hennigan

Photo: Row 44 Chief Executive John Guidon, left, and President Gregg Fialcowitz on the wings of the company's 1950 Grumman Albatross Seaplane that it uses for equipment testing. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times