I'm writing this column on a flight and would love to upload it to Inc.com. But unfortunately, I'm unable right now. Why? Because Gogo.
I'm a very frequent traveler and a heavy internet user. Like many business people, I like to bring work to do on a plane. Gone are the days of cross-country flights where we can sip G&Ts and watch a movie. Today, we're expected to get things done, and we rely on technology to do that.
Unfortunately, I've never been able to rely on Gogo's inflight Internet service. In fact -- and this is the truth -- when I know the work I'm doing on the next day's flight will require internet research, I literally do that research the night before and copy and paste dozens of web pages into a local Word document so I can access it on the plane. Why? Because there's a very low probability I can rely on Gogo's service. It's up! Oh darn, it froze. Rats, it's still frozen. Wait! I think it's up again! Quick! Start typing! Oh... rats.
Who can work this way?
I've been given lots of reasons why the service is so unreliable, both from Gogo reps and experts online. There's a "bandwidth" problem when "too many people" are getting online. There are "dead zones." Sometimes there are "router issues." The technology is "older" or "being upgraded." Oh, please. The real reason is Gogo is simply a terrible service. It's slow. It's unreliable. It's expensive. But of course, that doesn't stop the company from taking my money and not delivering what it promises. I've given up and only use it for what I absolutely have to. Reluctantly.
But there is good news. The company is struggling. And that brings me joy.
Over the past year or so, American Airlines -- my savior! -- has removed Gogo technology from hundreds of its aircraft in lieu of competitive services like VisSat, and even changed how it's paying Gogo for its lousy services. American Airlines apparently knows the truth about Gogo. Which is why the airline got tough with the beleaguered internet provider during its last round of contract negotiations.
Those negotiations did not go well for Gogo. "The contract with them was done under a lot of duress in the middle of 2016," Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne told Skift. "In that period, the company agreed to a predetermined pricing structure for airline-directed with American, and it gave American the right to trigger that whenever they wanted. American decided to trigger it on January 1 of this year. That has had a pretty negative effect on revenue."
Hmm, wonder what the "duress" was. Oh wait, that's right: American's customers hate Gogo. How silly of me to forget.
So thank you, American! The move cost Gogo a potential half-trillion-dollar bond offering. And even though Gogo has contracts with unsuspecting suckers like Delta, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic, the company's executives admit that revenues are down from the prior year. Skift reports that Gogo has more than a $1 billion of debt and has yet to produce a profitable quarter in the five years since it went public. Industry experts are also concerned with the company's slower than anticipated revenue and install growth.
Gogo executives are still forecasting income growth for this year, and investors are cheering. But the stock price is still down more than 30 percent since the beginning of the year. My advice to the remaining shareholders: sell, sell, sell!
Gogo certainly had its chance. It made an enormous investment and was the first to market with an in-the-air internet solution. But when you consistently deliver a service that does not deliver what it promises and yet you still collect your fees and enrage business customers like me, there's ultimately going to be a price to pay.
One final note: during the time of me writing this, my Gmail has still yet to load. Thanks, Gogo!