Apple Hires United CFO Zane Row As Sales VP

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Fresh on the heels of last week’s announcement that Symantec’s Phillip Bullock was joining Apple, the Cupertino company appears to have lured away yet another executive from a major corporation: United Continental’s Zane Rowe, according to AllThingsD.  Mr. Rowe is joining Apple as a vice president of sales.

United CFO Zane Row

United Continental’s Zane Rowe

Mr. Rowe, currently the Executive VP and CFO for United Continental, the holding company formed after United and Continental Airlines’ merger in May 2010, is leaving the company he has worked for since 1993 to take a “high-ranking sales position” with Apple.

“We are thrilled that Zane Rowe will be joining us as one of our vice presidents of sales,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD. “He built a great team at United and we think he is going to do a fantastic job at Apple.”

United’s Senior VP of Financial Planning and Analysis, John Rainey, will take Mr. Rowe’s place with the company. “While we are sorry Zane has decided to leave, we are excited to have such a talented executive as John Rainey become our chief financial officer,” United’s President and CEO Jeff Smisek told NASDAQ. 

AllThingsD’s John Paczkowksi was quick to note that the move is an unusual one for an executive of Mr. Rowe’s tenure. The transition from a head financial position to lesser position in sales seems odd, suggesting that Apple has plans for Mr. Rowe large enough to lure him away from his current lucrative job.

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I’m glad that he came from the Continental side of the merger.  I have always been of the opinion that United’s customer service was one of the worse in the industry, while Continental’s was one of the best of the US carriers.

As far as the unusual move comment, it wouldn’t surprise me that he was pressured to leave.  It’s not that uncommon for high level execs from the acquired company to be moved out once the merger is complete.  I have seen it happen more than once in my career, where talented individuals are moved aside in favor of others from the acquiring company.

Given his background, I wonder if he is going to be responsible for working with the airlines to implement iPad replacements for the paper manuals and charts.


It’s not clear why Apple would hire an exec whose experience AND education is virtually all airline. Since he became an airline CFO, perhaps he evolved to be more of a bean-counter. Apple hiring him in that capacity would make sense, but Apple says he’ll be a VP of Sales rather than Finance/Accounting. Perhaps more will be revealed soon.

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