In this Story, IG Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Jasmine Bedi interviews Marc exclusively and uncovers his prolific journey, his entrepreneurial story and the key ingredients to his success. Jasmine also talks with some of Digital Bridge’s and Digital Colony’s leadership team, who share their insights about the firms and much more.
Published in the Latest Issue | DECEMBER 31, 2019
Marc Ganzi is widely recognized as a key figure driving communications infrastructure deployment around the world. Today, Ganzi wears several hats as CEO of Digital Colony, Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Bridge, and CEO-Elect of Colony Capital, Inc. (NYSE: CLNY), a role he’s slated to assume by 2021.
It was in 2013 when this multi-hyphenate executive, along with Ben Jenkins, founded Digital Bridge, an organization that went on to become a leading investor and operator of digital infrastructure companies in no time. The firm has a well-earned reputation, thanks to its unparalleled industry knowledge and operational expertise. Digital Bridge boasts six companies across the U.S. and Latin America (Mexico Tower Partners, Vertical Bridge, ExteNet Systems, Andean Telecom Partners, DataBank and Vantage Data Centers) in its current portfolio. In addition, Digital Bridge manages six other firms through the Digital Colony Partners Fund, the first-ever fund (amounting to more than $4.05 billion) dedicated to investing in the digital infrastructure sector, which launched earlier this year. The Fund has made six global investments to date: Andean Telecom Partners, Digita Oy, Aptum Technologies, the FreshWave Group, Beanfield Technologies and Highline do Brasil. There’s also its pending transaction for Zayo Holdings Group, Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO), in partnership with EQT.
Marc Ganzi is CEO of Digital Colony, Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Bridge, and CEO-Elect of Colony Capital, Inc. (NYSE: CLNY)
You have been at the forefront of investing in the Digital Economy since 1994. Tell us how you started investing in data centers, cell towers, small cell and fiber companies.
After graduating from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, I worked for a real estate company. At the time, I was turning around distressed real estate but somehow some antenna leases ended up on my desk. At the same time, my mentor introduced me to two gentlemen, Alex Gellman and Jeff Ginsberg, who were in the cellular telephone business. Alex and Jeff had all this knowledge about cell phones which, by the way, were as big as a briefcase—almost like a huge brick—back then, and I knew real estate. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been working with Alex and Jeff in one way or another, ever since.
Collectively, in 1995, we formed Apex Site Management—a company that helped property owners to lease, manage and install wireless antennas and infrastructure on their rooftops. As a part of its business model, we branched out of rooftops, and forayed into tower space leasing, along with managing towers and rooftops. It culminated when we merged with SpectraSite and took the business public. SpectraSite was the fifth publicly-traded tower company during the 90s.
After a year’s tenure of running M&A, I decided to explore other avenues and I wound up at Deutsche Bank’s DB Capital Partners investing in infrastructure.
I worked on various projects including a wireless company in Argentina, a tower company in Mexico, buying trucking licenses in Brazil, and leasing out server space to Brazilian companies. Five deals, several relationships and two years later, I left Deutsche Bank to start my second company, Global Tower Partners. The investment thesis was to take advantage of the dislocation between the relative share prices, owned towers and wireless companies vis-à-vis the intrinsic value of the towers.
Ben Jenkins is the Chief Investment Officer of Digital Colony and Co-Founder and Chairman of Digital Bridge
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the wireless sector since you started in the industry, and how has that impacted how you think about growing Digital Bridge and Digital Colony?
The amount of data being produced, transported and consumed every day is astounding. According to an IBM report, approximately 90 percent of the data in the world has been generated over the last two years alone. That pace is accelerating, and it is only the beginning. We’ve seen mobile data use evolve from voice and text (2G) to websites and browsing (3G) to streaming and big data (4G). The next phase of network evolution (5G) will pave the way for the industrialization of wireless networks: