APEX in Profile: Michael Small


Michael Small
Chief Executive Officer

Michael has served as Gogo’s president and CEO, as well as a member of the board, since 2010 and has more than 30 years of experience in the communications industry. Before joining Gogo, he served for 10 years as the CEO and director of Centennial Communications Corporation. He holds a BA from Colgate University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Frequent Flight: ORD-EWR
Now Reading: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Paper or electronic boarding pass? Electronic
Seatback or PED? PED, of course
Favorite social network: Twitter

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
I chose the airline industry because aircraft were the last and a very promising frontier for the Internet.

Something that never ceases to amaze you in your industry?
How hard it is to make a change to an aircraft.

How do you see in-flight connectivity evolving over the coming years?
In-flight connectivity [IFC] will be faster, cheaper, ubiquitous, more reliable, and will support many more applications. Competition among airlines will drive adoption of connectivity services.

Do you have your sights set on any regions in particular for growth?
We are narrowly and completely focused on the globe.

In-flight Internet service providers have been teaming up with partners such as Netflix and T-Mobile. How do you see these partnerships evolving? What other opportunities are there?
Just as on the ground, IFC will attract numerous partners and a vast array of applications. Netflix and T-Mobile are two great brands and among the first of many.

Passengers will fly with their own devices and their own content rights.

What do you think is the most overlooked aspect of the passenger experience?
Just how much and in how many ways the passenger experience can be improved with connectivity. Everyone understands a passenger Internet session. It is still less understood that connectivity will dramatically reduce turbulence and delays. It is also less understood that connectivity will reduce ticket prices (and improve airline profitability) by driving costs out, particularly maintenance and fuel costs.

How do content and entertainment expectations change for people when they are traveling?
At this very moment, choice of content is going up dramatically, and costs are falling considerably. Passengers will fly with their own devices and their own content rights.

How important is social media for an airline in the digital age?
Very important. If travel isn’t a social media moment, I don’t know what is.

What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
Text and Tweet for Twee Dollars. Don’t ask.

Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
Flying on the Jimmy Ray and Gogo One, our test planes.

What’s the one item you can’t travel without?
My PED (and a government-issued ID, of course).

Two things that you miss most about home when you’re traveling?
Wife and kids.

Your top three films of all time?
Any three James Bond movies.

If you could sit beside anyone on a plane, who would it be?
Anyone sleeping (and not snoring).