SmartSky Networks (“SmartSky”) is building the first 4G air-to-ground (“ATG”) communications network in the U.S. to provide high speed Wi-Fi capability to the aviation industry. SmartSky was founded by a group of experienced aviation and telecommunications executives who were frustrated with the existing in-flight connectivity (“IFC”) solutions in the market. Using their joint expertise and industry knowledge, these executives are tailoring a solution to build a low-cost, high-capacity, next generation IFC service to compete with Gogo, the current sole ATG competitor in North America. Once fully built, SmartSky’s innovative technology will enable the company to be a first mover in the 2.4 GHz spectrum and will pave the way for a faster, more cost-effective IFC solution.
Haynes Griffin, the Chairman and CEO of SmartSky, first approached Platform in December 2013 to solicit our interest in participating in an investment in the company. Haynes is a personal friend of Platform and a highly successful entrepreneur in the communications industry. Haynes was previously the Founder and CEO of Vanguard Cellular Systems, the largest independent non-wireline cellular carrier in the 1990s. Haynes led Vanguard from its inception through its initial public offering and ultimate sale to AT&T in 1999 for $1.5 billion. Given Platform’s relevant investments in Landmark Aviation and American Tower, Haynes felt we may be interested in participating in the investment.