Zayo announced today the appointment of Steve Smith as Chief Executive Officer, having been selected by Digital Colony, which is part of Colony Capital (NYSE: CLNY), and EQT Partners to lead Zayo. Steve Smith was chosen for Zayo based on his proven track record scaling digital infrastructure companies into leading global providers in their respective markets.
Zayo owns 133k fiber route miles and 13 million fiber strand miles. This fiber connects to 35.0k buildings, in the United States and Europe.
Dan Caruso, Zayo’s current Chief Executive Officer will support Steve Smith as he transitions to Chief Executive Officer and will continue at Zayo as a Board Director.
Steve Smith has over 30 years of expertise as a global leader of technology companies. He is a West Point graduate and an 8-year Army veteran. Most recently, Steve Smith was a Managing Director at GI Partners, a leading private equity firm.
Steve Smith’s Legacy at Equinix
Steve Smith was Chief Executive Officer of Equinix for over 10 years. However, he unexpectedly resigned in January 2018, due to “exercising poor judgment with respect to an employee matter”, Equinix disclosed through an 8-K filing, announcing his departure. At the same time, Steve Smith also stepped down from Equinix’s Board of Directors.
At Equinix, Steve Smith grew the Equity Value by 17x, from $2bn to $34bn. Additionally, he grew Equinix revenue from $400m to $4.4bn across 200 data centers, in 52 markets, serving over 10,000 customers.
Zayo and Steve Smith in the Public Markets
Steve Smith has held board of director and senior executive roles at several additional tech companies. The companies include F5 Networks (NASDAQ: FFIV), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), EDS, NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP), and NEXTDC (ASX: NXT).
Given Steve Smith’s wealth of public markets experience, Zayo could return to the stock market in the coming years, under his seasoned leadership.
Colony Capital – Update Beyond Zayo
Colony Capital (through Digital Colony Partners I) owns a material interest in Zayo, which it took private in March 2020. Furthermore, Colony has been extraordinarily busy in the Digital Infrastructure space, over the past couple of months.
In mid-October, Colony Capital sold a 30% stake in ExteNet, to John Hancock Life Insurance Company. ExteNet is the largest private owner and operator of distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cell networks in the U.S.
In late September, Colony Capital, led the equity funding for DataBank’s $1.4bn acquisition of 44 Data Centers from zColo (Zayo). Indeed, Colony Capital is DataBank’s controlling shareholder.
Finally, in mid-August, Reuters reported that Colony Capital (through its Digital Colony Partners I fund) had contacted Crown Castle to indicate its interest in purchasing a minority stake in its fiber business.