Life After Infomart: A New Player Joins the Data Center Boom

Oct. 17, 2018
New CEO Brian Cox will lead a relaunch and rebranding of the wholesale data center business of Infomart Data Centers, which was acquired by IPI Data Center Investors.

There’s a new Infomart coming. The components are still coming together. But by early 2019, expect to see a new brand for the wholesale data center provider, complete with an experienced management team and owners with deep pockets and big ambitions.

“We are on the cusp of something exciting,” said Brian Cox, who on Monday was named CEO of Infomart Data Centers, and envisions a “change in trajectory” for the business, which currently operates wholesale data centers in three markets.

“We have an opportunity to identify what we want to be,” said Cox, who previously was the Chief Operating Officer at Cologix. “Looking out five years, I see a different company.”

The new company won’t be named “Infomart,” however. It will relaunch with a new name in early 2019 as the newest data center platform play, as owner IPI Data Center Partners assembles assets and a team of experienced executives to capitalize on the growth of cloud computing.

“We’re looking forward to a successful relaunch,” said Cox. “We will be rebranding as a new organization. The Infomart name wouldn’t have worked for a number of reasons.”

The main reason? The Dallas Infomart building, which inspired the company name, is now owned by Equinix.

Splitting Up the Retail, Wholesale Assets

A little history is in order to chart the company’s path to this point. Infomart Data Centers was created in 2014 by ASB Real Estate, which merged the Dallas Infomart and Fortune Data Centers, a wholesale data center operator with facilities in San Jose and Hillsboro, Oregon. To create a national data center footprint, Infomart Data Centers acquired a facility in Ashburn, Virginia.

In 2017, ASB decided to sell the company. Equinix, which operates four data centers inside the colocation-centric Infomart, bought the Dallas building for $800 million. But it wasn’t interested in owning the three wholesale properties, which were then sold to IPI.

IPI Data Center Partners has been one of the major new investors in the industry. The company is backed by Iron Point Partners and Iconiq Capital, a wealth manager to Silicon Valley whose clients reportedly include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman. IPI was created in 2016, and has announced a series of investments in wholesale data center projects.

In the six months since the acquisition of the Infomart assets, IPI has been building its management team, a process which culminated in this week’s hiring of Cox.

As COO of  Cologix, Cox was responsible for growing the business from a startup with one data center into an international platform with 25 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Other new hires include Chief Operating Officer Donough Roche and Chief Revenue Officer Ty Miller, both veterans of Digital Realty.

Building a New Team

Cox succeeds Phil Koen, an industry veteran who became interim CEO in June and will remain actively involved as a member of the board of directors.

“The company is in a very strong position, and Brian is an accomplished leader with an innate understanding of our business and the strategy we are implementing,” said Koen. “He has successfully built and grown great businesses. We are confident he is the right person to drive our success well into the future.”

An aerial view of the Infomart Data Centers campus in Hillsboro, Oregon. (Photo: LinkedIn)

“We are thrilled to have Brian join as the CEO to help drive the next chapter of the company’s growth story,” said Matt A’Hearn, Managing Director of IPI Partners. “We believe the platform is well positioned for near-term growth. We expect Brian’s vision and ability to inspire and connect with the team, customers, and partners to be transformative to the business.”

“My passion is building companies and building organizations,” said Cox. “The IPI team brings great lineage – a who’s who of the tech industry and a history of success in the industry. The Iconiq brand brings a huge history of relationships and growth. Iron Point has been here over the long run (its previous investments include PowerLoft and T5 Data Centers).”

A National Portfolio

The three data centers owned by Infomart total 665,000 square feet of space, with 27.2 megawatts of total in-place capacity. Significantly, the properties also include enough land to support up to 29.7 megawatts of additional data center capacity, which represents potential upside for the new investors.

Cox envisions expansions in all three of the company’s markets. Here’s his take on each:

  • Hillsboro, Oregon: The Infomart Portland facility was the first multi-tenant wholesale data center site in the Portland market, and is home to a large data center for LinkedIn, among others. “We have a leadership position as the first mover in Portland,” said Cox. “We have physical capacity to expand, and our growth trajectory there is strong.”
  • San Jose, California: The first Fortune Data Center was a converted semiconductor fabrication site, and has an additional building and parking lot that can be retrofitted for data center use. “We’ve got a great campus, and direct utility access at that site,” he said. “We will be investing in the San Jose campus in a significant way.  We intend to be a strong player in the Silicon Valley market for a long time to come.”
  • Ashburn, Virginia: Infomart recently completed commissioning a new data center suite at its Ashburn facility, which it purchased several years ago from America Online.  “This is a building with a lot of history, and it’s got 18 megawatts of power,” said Cox. “We’ve had several parties, including both cloud and enterprise companies, reach out to us about taking the entire facility.”

A long corridor inside the Infomart Ashburn data center in Northern Virginia. (Photo: Rich Miller)

At a time when there are many data center assets on the market, it’s no surprise that Cox and the IPI team are shopping for additional assets.

“We are actively considering all the platform opportunities we have as a company,” said Cox. “We are going to be in more than (three markets) geographically. By the time we rebrand and relaunch, we will be ready to say more.”

Cox declined comment on public reports that IPI Partners recently acquired a T5 Data Centers property in Elk Grove Village, a leading data center hub in the Suburban Chicago market.

Seeking Scale

What’s clear is that new brand intends to grow into a larger player in the industry, and is a likely player in the active data center M&A landscape. IPI’s rebranded company will be the latest in a series of investor platforms seeking growth in the data center industry. Other notable examples include EdgeCore Internet Real Estate, Digital Bridge with Vantage and DataBank brands, and second-tier plays including Flexential, Cologix and TierPoint.

The announcement of Cox’s appointment noted that the company will seek “accelerated organic and inorganic growth,” and it has the resources to do so.

“With IPI as our partner, we are perfectly positioned to build on our existing platform and expand into other markets, with a goal of rapidly scaling the business to meet the unique needs of our customers,” said Cox. “We will be growing where our customers need to be.”

About the Author

Rich Miller

I write about the places where the Internet lives, telling the story of data centers and the people who build them. I founded Data Center Knowledge, the data center industry's leading news site. Now I'm exploring the future of cloud computing at Data Center Frontier.

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