Row 44 hires Lefkowitz as chief commercial officer

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Row 44 has appointed marketing and entertainment expert Howard Lefkowitz as chief commercial officer.

The California-headquartered company, which is bringing airborne high-speed Internet to Southwest Airlines and other airline customers, says Lefkowitz will open Row 44's new Las Vegas office, and spearhead the marketing and branding of Row 44's services for commercial airlines.

He will also secure content partnerships for Row 44's in-flight walled garden - a menu of broadband services such as on-demand movies, live television, e-commerce and destination services - available for free to all Wi-Fi enabled passengers. And he will develop new product strategies for Row 44 and the company's airline partners around the world.

Lefkowitz is the former president CEO of the highly popular Vegas.com city hospitality and information site. He brings "considerable marketing and technical experience in Internet business, television and film", says Row 44, noting that Lefkowitz also previously served as vice-president of business development and marketing for Earthlink, and helped Dick Clark Productions bring the first interactive primetime show to network TV.

Among his other accomplishments, Lefkowitz was a senior executive at multichannel retailer HSN, and later served as president of one of the company's subsidiaries. Row 44 has said that HSN's online video programming will be offered as part of its walled garden for airlines.

"Howard [Lefkowitz's] successful track record across multiple industry segments-entertainment, hospitality, back-end systems, user interfaces, destinations, e-commerce and others-makes him a phenomenal addition to Row 44's management team and our board," says Row 44 CEO John Guidon.

"We will provide our customer airlines the means to revolutionize the services and facilities available to their passengers, and Howard's incomparable vision, experience and knowledge will prove critical in this endeavor. He represents the next phase in the growth of our business."

Row 44's new Las Vegas office will be Row 44's fourth office. The others include the company's Westlake Village, California, headquarters, a Chicago-area technical facility and a business development and sales office in London.

Lefkowitz has also joined Row 44's board of directors, whose current members include co-founders Guidon and Row 44 president Gregg Fialcowitz, as well as PAR Capital Management vice-president and partner Ed Shapiro and Larry Kellner, former CEO of Continental Airlines and current board member of Marriott International.