CEO at Layer 9 Data Centres
Despite being a key figure in the growth of the LATAM data centre market, Michael Ortiz took a sideways step into the industry after over a decade in investment banking.
The now-CEO and Co-Founder of Layer 9 Data Centres joined the company after a highly successful career in investment banking. Self-admittedly, Ortiz “fell into it” following the American financial crisis in 2008.
“So, my teeth were never really cut in this industry.”
But, the skills of his initial career just so happened to transition very successfully into data centres.
“Our business is not only technical, but it's a very capital intensive business. Our business often requires a significant amount of money upfront to develop projects that don't earn revenues for 12, 15 or 18 months later. So, you have to be very acute about how you invest the capital,” Ortiz explains.
Ortiz's varied career continues to aid his successes, as his widespread connections have been pivotal in creating Layer 9’s current partner ecosystem.
“Our investors - including LBS and DLR - all come specifically from the data centre business. They're very acute as to what we do and how we do it. And over half of the investor pool are people with whom I've worked with directly, or worked for in the business in some capacity,” Ortiz explains.
“So I have, over time, earned their trust and earned their respect. Most of our partners that we've chosen are built on relationships that have been deep-seated for decades, through either the board members, myself, Alejandro or Joe.”
However, it is his father’s work ethic that has inspired Ortiz’s leadership approach, more so than his highly successful background in the financial industry.
“Without a doubt, my discipline and my approach to almost everything in my life is tied to my father. He proudly served in the United States Army. He was drafted in Vietnam and came out a decorated Purple Heart recipient. I, to this day, can never get my father to speak about anything from the war. All I ever hear him talk about is the fact that he only survived that war by being part of a team. And without that team, he wouldn't have come back. So that principle really gels into my core.”
Ortiz describes how this military influence has helped him to run his company with an extreme level of precision; an approach that has proved invaluable in building in this largely untapped market.
“Our discipline and ‘listen first and act later’ mindset has allowed us to also be able to have a very finite laser focus, regarding how we're going to build in Mexico. And I think our clients have already seen that that is very evident in just the fact that our company is only two years old.”
Breaking new ground, and investing in LATAM data market
Layer 9 is a data centre provider, specialising in prefabricated, modular and hyperscale solutions. It operates in the LATAM market, bringing hyperscale connectivity to regions that have previously been dramatically underserved by these technologies.
While this market presents a huge opportunity for hyperscalers, it also comes with a number of growth challenges, which the overwhelming majority of providers have chosen not to attempt.
But, Ortiz saw the exceptional value within this venture, both in terms of the unique market positioning that Layer 9 could achieve, but also in the immense value that it could bring to the massively underserved LATAM market.
Although, as Ortiz describes, this was far from a straightforward process, the company now looks towards a hugely successful future, as one of the data centre leaders in the entire LATAM market.
“The publicists make it look so easy. What people don't realise is the countless times that myself and Alejandro asked, ‘Should we just pull the plug on this thing?’. I mean, so many times.”
“But our failures – and I know it sounds cliche – our failures have absolutely defined our success, as opposed to our successes. Our successes have only been an output of the many failures that have enabled us to fall forward.”
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