Caruso’s final song as Steve Smith takes over at Zayo

Caruso’s final song as Steve Smith takes over at Zayo

23 October 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Dan Caruso has stepped down from the leadership of Zayo, the company he co-founded in 2007.

His successor, announced last night, is Steve Smith (pictured), the man who was ousted from the top of Equinix in early 2018 over “exercising poor judgment with respect to an employee matter”.

Caruso said: “I am pleased to hand the Zayo baton to Steve, who I respect and have enjoyed working with over the years.”

He added: “I am proud of what Zayo has accomplished since its launch in 2007. Under Steve’s stewardship, I’m certain Zayo will solidify its position as the world’s leading provider of bandwidth connectivity.”

Caruso will continue at Zayo as a board director. Marc Ganzi, CEO of Colony Capital, which earlier this year led a US$14 billion takeover of Zayo with Sweden’s EQT, said on LinkedIn: “Your passion and drive is the fuel that powers Zayo and its innovation. The journey is just beginning for all that Zayo is capable of doing. I am excited to continue to work with you and the board in helping Steve lead the strategic direction roll forward! Let’s make it happen!”

He was responding to a lengthy LinkedIn post by Caruso in which he recounted the start of Zayo, at a time when many fibre operators had “accidental owners”, in his words, thanks to the dotcom crash.

“Over the next 14 years Zayo led the consolidation of the fibre industry,” writes Caruso. “Dark fibre, once a dirty word in our industry, became a cachet. Fibre to the tower became a product category. Metro fibre emerged as a way to provide connectivity between data centres.”

Smith, Caruso’s successor, has been a managing director of the private equity firm GI Partners, which has $12 billion of assets under management. He later also joined the board of Flexential.

But people in the industry will remember him from his swift departure from Equinix in early 2018, when he failed to appear at a panel at the PTC conference in Hawaii. Equinix at the time gave no more information, except to say that the “board of directors, in the best interests of the company, has accepted his resignation”, and little or nothing has emerged since.

“I’m excited to join Zayo as it begins its journey as a private company backed by two of the world’s largest infrastructure investors,” he said last night. “Dan and I have known one another and partnered together as Zayo and Equinix emerged as the global leaders in their respective digital infrastructure segments.”

Ganzi said: “Steve’s track record successfully managing growing digital infrastructure businesses while maintaining high levels of operational reliability and excellence is the perfect fit for Zayo as it enters the next phase of its growth.”

Jan Vesely, partner at EQT Partners, said: “Steve, as a proven leader with unmatched operational and leadership experience in the industry, is ideally situated to lead the company as it continues to identify opportunities to enhance and expand its essential service offerings and connectivity solutions.”

Ganzi added: “Steve will have big shoes to fill. Dan built an amazing company in just over a decade and we look forward to benefiting from his contributions as a key member of our board of directors.”

Ganzi recalled earlier this year in an interview with Capacity that he and EQT started to develop their plans to buy Zayo at Capacity Media’s Metro Connect conference in Florida.