The Road Ahead for Digital Infrastructure with Mike Netzer

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Join host Raymond Hawkins as he sits down with Mike Netzer, VP of Sales at datacenterHawk, for an engaging conversation you won’t want to miss!

Join host Raymond Hawkins as he sits down with Mike Netzer, VP of Sales at datacenterHawk, for an engaging conversation you won’t want to miss! 🎙️✨ 

Mike’s diverse background spans managing pension portfolios to becoming a data center industry expert, with experiences from the Northeast to Idaho, Connecticut, Florida and Texas. 🌍💼 

Episode Highlights: 

🚀 Mind-Blowing AI Advances: Mike kicks off the episode by sharing astonishing AI applications that would have seemed impossible just a couple of years ago. Think you can tell the difference between real and fake videos? Think again! 

🌍 Data Center Insights: Understand the critical role data centers play in our daily lives and how datacenterHawk is revolutionizing capacity management and market knowledge. 

👩‍💻 Industry Evolution: Hear about the exponential growth of the data center industry and why it’s the place to be right now. Raymond and Mike discuss the unique opportunities and challenges they face in this dynamic field. 

💡 The Future of Digital Infrastructure: Explore the potential for publicly owned digital infrastructure in the future, the possibility of nuclear energy for data centers and how energy pricing impacts the industry’s economic viability. 

Tune in now to explore the evolution of the world of data centers and get inspired by the latest technological advancements! 

Read the full transcript below:

Mike Netzer [00:00:00]:  

You show some of the AI applications we have today to someone even just a year or 2 ago, and they’re going, no way. That video is not real. Yeah. Or that video has to be real. That video can’t be fake. And you go, yeah. Sure enough. It’s fake.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:00:15]:  

Hello. Hello. It’s Raymond Hawkins, chief revenue officer at Compass Datacenters, your host for not your father’s data center. We are gonna hang out today and talk about data centers with the genius as a datacenterHawk. It’s funny, we were talking about you guys this morning on a conference call about, hey, how do we manage capacity and knowledge about markets? And should we I was like, hold on a minute, guys. Why would we try to do this when DatacenterHawk already does all this? So it’s kind of funny that that you and I are recording today and and and you, guys came up in conversation while we were doing it. So you you run sales for datacenterHawk. We we know that, but tell us a little bit, about you.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:00:56]:  

Where’d you grow up? How’d you get in the data center business. Give us a little bit about what we wanna know about you.  

Mike Netzer [00:01:02]:  

Sure. I would say how far back do you wanna go? I’ll I’ll  

Raymond Hawkins [00:01:05]:  

put some in the beginning. Way back. Born and raised. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:01:07]:  

That’s right. So a  

Raymond Hawkins [00:01:08]:  

great way to start.  

Mike Netzer [00:01:09]:  

The only tie in I’ll make is it’s not a data center tie in, but it could become one is I’ve got this you can barely see it on screen there. This little anchor bracelet, and I’m not a big bracelet guy, but I’m trying it out. I grew up originally in Connecticut, age 0 0 to 8. And the only reason that’s important is because my dad worked at the sub base in Groton there, and that’s where we were  

last, 3 weeks ago. They’re they’re commissioning a new sub called the USS Idaho that we all went, because my dad had done some work at Hughes ex Navy. And that that’s where I really grew up was in Idaho. And so my there’s another naval base in Idaho that’s not important. It’s a whole rabbit truck to go down, but I won’t.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:01:44]:  

I was gonna say Connecticut and Idaho, we are we are kinda on opposite ends of the of the world there.  

Mike Netzer [00:01:50]:  

A 100%. And you wouldn’t think there’d be any connection between the 2, but the navy is the connection.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:01:56]:  

Yeah. Okay.  

Mike Netzer [00:01:56]:  

Anyway, so spent my formative years in Idaho, went to University of Idaho by and large. Vandals? Go Vandals. Yep.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:03]:  

I want Vandals.  

Mike Netzer [00:02:04]:  

That’s right. Wreck them Vandals.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:06]:  

I’ve been I’ve been on I’ve been on the Vandal campus.  

Mike Netzer [00:02:09]:  

Okay. I would love to know why you were in Moscow, Idaho for a Vandal visit.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:13]:  

So I’ve got a friend of mine that lives in Coeur d’Alene. I always worry I’m gonna say it wrong.  

Mike Netzer [00:02:19]:  

That’s right. That’s where I grew up.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:21]:  

So I fly into, what’s the airport? Spokane?  

Mike Netzer [00:02:25]:  

Spokane. Yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:25]:  

And drive over to Coeur d’Alene, and then, we went and stayed up at Priest Lake, maybe?  

Mike Netzer [00:02:30]:  

Yep. Yep.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:31]:  

Yeah. So so so, got a friend that moved from Dallas up there and then gone up to visit he and his family several times, especially, you know, down here when it’s a 1000000 degrees. Yeah. In July August, we go up to Idaho.  

Mike Netzer [00:02:42]:  

Yeah. We try and go up. My parents’ sister still live there. We try and go up, you know, in the summer, especially, and it’s so nice there. I mean, it’s middle of July. You could be you could be in the fifties. You could be in the forties. You could be in the eighties.  

Mike Netzer [00:02:54]:  

It’s amazing. So that’s where I grew up. This is right by Coeur d’Alene. Yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:02:57]:  

I I have a great Coeur d’Alene, Idaho story for you. So I go up there. It’s summer of 19. My kids are both in college, and we go to spend some time just to get out of the heat. It’s July. And we’re  

joking about how incredibly beautiful the weather is. And we wake up and it’s, like, 65 degrees, and it’s just gonna get up to 80. And, we’re in line at the grocery store of getting some stuff to take out to the lake house where we’re spending the week.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:03:26]:  

And there’s this, you know, burly, clearly manual labor gentleman in front of us, talking to the cash register, the person who’s checking him out, saying that that he’s headed home because his job site has been closed due to the heat wave. Mhmm. That it was gonna be 81 today. Mhmm. And that they couldn’t go to the job site in the great weather. And here we are. I’m literally wearing a hoodie. Yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:03:51]:  

And we’re listening to this conversation, talking about how great it is. I’m like, you know, it’s just all a matter of perspective or where it  

Mike Netzer [00:03:57]:  

comes from. Perspective. Yeah. My parents are coming to visit this weekend, and my dad was texting me asking if it was, quote, flip flop weather, if he should bring his flip flops. And I said, well, we’ll be in the sixties, seventies, and eighties here, but, like, the thirties is flip flop weather for you, dad. And so Yeah. Needless to say, he’s packing the flip flops. So  

Raymond Hawkins [00:04:15]:  


Mike Netzer [00:04:16]:  

So went to college at University of Idaho and then graduated very shortly. Met my wife in college, although she’s from Florida. So we did the long distance dating. I moved to Florida, then we moved to Texas for a job.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:04:28]:  

So wait. Wait. Wait. She’s from Florida, but went to school in Idaho?  

Mike Netzer [00:04:32]:  

No. We met, the summer of 2002 in California, San Diego.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:04:36]:  


Mike Netzer [00:04:37]:  

Yep. On a Got it. Some people are familiar with Campus Crusade. Now it’s called Crew. Yeah. Yeah. They do summer summer projects across the world, and we met well. Yep.  

Mike Netzer [00:04:45]:  

There we go. So I ended up in Dallas 2006. And for the first probably 14 years, I was doing work in the pension space. I know. Very exciting.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:04:54]:  

Oh. The only that the only reason I bring  

Mike Netzer [00:04:56]:  

that up is because the backdrop, and I did kind of everything and anything in that space. And then I got to know David Liggett, who I think most people you certainly know and most people probably listen to this podcast know, DatacenterHawk founder. Yeah. He said we were we knew each other. We’re from the same, you know, areas that go to the same church. And he’s like, hey. You know, I started this company. It’s getting a little bit bigger.  

Mike Netzer [00:05:17]:  

He’s still wearing basically every hat in the organization and said, hey. You know, love for you to come join me, and I said, I’d love to come give it a shot. And so it was a little bit of a leap of faith, and, you know, it was it’s been a it was 5 years ago now, which seems as  

Raymond Hawkins [00:05:30]:  

same. Still?  

Mike Netzer [00:05:31]:  

Yep. Yeah. Yep. Alright. Yep. Watermark Church, we actually we are in their east tower as we speak. So they’ve got Alright. An office building that they lease out.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:05:39]:  

Incubator. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I was gonna say there was some some business incubator sort of stuff going on next in the tower next door. That’s right. Yep. That’s right.  

Mike Netzer [00:05:47]:  

No. It’s a 100% right. And so  

Raymond Hawkins [00:05:48]:  

I’ve I’ve done I’ve I’ve done more hours of we don’t call it CR, but regeneration Mhmm.  

Mike Netzer [00:05:56]:  


Raymond Hawkins [00:05:56]:  

In that tower than, then you can count. 7 years lead and regen.  

Mike Netzer [00:06:01]:  

No kidding. That’s awesome, man. That is like  

Raymond Hawkins [00:06:02]:  

I would say I would say probably 2 or 3 floors below you. I think we did on the 3rd floor. I don’t remember.  

Mike Netzer [00:06:07]:  

Yeah. No. That’s exactly right. And that’s an amazing ministry that’s grown a ton and see a ton of people go through that and just, like, really, really dramatically radically impacts their life.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:06:18]:  

For the gig. Truly transformative stuff that goes on Yeah. That you get to observe in the context of regen. So, yeah, I know exactly where you are.  

Mike Netzer [00:06:27]:  

Yeah. So that was 2019. Had no idea what the data center was. Had no idea what sales was. And David took a chance on me, which to his credit was was extremely generous, and we just  

kinda gave me a lot of room to figure it out, as he had done for the previous 5 years. And, again, 2019 in the data center space was, I think, we thought this is a growing industry, but there wasn’t the the same sentiment as we all have today.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:06:53]:  


Mike Netzer [00:06:53]:  

Yeah. The industry has grown immensely since then. And, you know, we’ve tried to figure out so I was the 6th or 7th employee.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:07:01]:  

And 2019 wasn’t a bad year, I mean, man, it’s radically changed in 5 years.  

Mike Netzer [00:07:07]:  

Yes. So as a Yeah. Company at Data Center Rock, I think there was still some not the same confidence we have today as, like, is this meet a market need? And now we feel very, you know, very confident that, like, we’ve been validated. Obviously, the industry has grown tremendously. And so I feel extremely fortunate to have been kinda gotten on board when I did. And and it’s been a really sweet ride and all the challenges that go along with growth, you know it, but but it’s been fun. So that leads up today, and here we are.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:07:35]:  

Yeah. It’s interesting. You know, we’ve just finished up the Q1. We have these conversations about, hey. What’s the year look like and how we doing and where we going? And I truly think it it would be I would be hard pressed to come up with another industry that that if if you if you want to be in an industry where the wind is at your back, and I joke occasionally, there is someone selling buggy whips in America today. Mhmm. Right? Some that’s still an industry. It looks a lot different than it looked in 1900, but it’s still an industry.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:08:03]:  

Someone is selling buggy webs. And, I’m just glad I don’t have to pay for my, you know, mortgage selling buggy webs. And I’m grateful to be on the data center visit. And I and I’d have a hard time coming up with an industry where I go, you know, there is so much wind at our backs compared to this industry. And you knew people could say, well, AI. Well, yeah. But AI is wind at our back. Right? I mean, if I had to pick some industry to be in, I’d have a hard time come up with a list of ones that are of a 2 or 3 that are better than where we are.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:08:35]:  

It just feels super lucky, super blessed, super fortunate to to get in the data center space, 11 years ago now.  

Mike Netzer [00:08:42]:  

Yeah. I mean, we’re we’re selling pickaxes to the miners where you are. And, we’re selling I don’t know what we’re selling, but it’s something to you guys. Yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:08:50]:  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. You’re you’re selling the match for the guys buying the  

Mike Netzer [00:08:55]:  

There we go. Sure. There you go. Exactly.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:08:57]:  

That’s right.  

Mike Netzer [00:08:57]:  

Great analogy. Can I borrow that?  

Raymond Hawkins [00:08:59]:  

Yeah. We’re absolutely. For sure. But, yeah, I mean, that’s right. Right? And and, you know, I spent, before 11 years in the data center business, I’ve spent, you know, as much as I hate to admit, almost 3 decades, sealing data centers full of computers. And just amazed, I I never once walked in a data center and said, you know, who runs this place? Mhmm. Who owns this? It just wasn’t part of the narrative. Right? It was so wrapped up in the technology and in the software and the integration and the, and the network and the and the storage and the applications, and never thought about the building and the real estate and really just gotten lucky to get in that side of the business.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:09:37]:  

And and now, you know, I I watch these, you know, different releases of technology and think, I mean, at the end of the day, I just want there to be more more ones and zeros. I don’t care  

whose app it is. I don’t care whose switch it is. I don’t care whose storage it is. I don’t care whose server it is. I don’t care whose processor it is. Just get some more of it. It.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:09:55]:  

And and I think that, you know, if if you think if you think the Internet’s gonna work out, which it looks like it is, and and, and the technology is gonna continue to proliferate. I think it’s hard to find a better spot to be than what you and I get both get to do every day.  

Mike Netzer [00:10:10]:  

Yeah. I think there’s so many different ways to express that, and it’s very easy for people to understand. You say, hey. Just look at look at your life now versus 5 years ago versus 10 years ago. Everything is exponentially more electronic than it was. Yeah. Yeah. And and and if you fast forward that, you know, there’s a blog, the wait but why guy.  

Mike Netzer [00:10:30]:  

He talks about, like, the amount of time it takes to blow somebody’s mind by technology. So from the year 0 to 1000 AD, probably mines would be blown. 1,000 to 500, maybe. You start to see cities evolve. 1500 to 1800. K. You’re getting closer. 1800, 1900, sure.  

Mike Netzer [00:10:48]:  

1900 to 1980, 1980 to 2000. So that that time frame is shortening. And you think you show some of the AI applications we have today to someone even just a year or 2 ago, and they’re going, no way. That video is not real, or that video has to be real. That video can’t be fake. And you go, yeah. Sure enough. It’s fake.  

Mike Netzer [00:11:04]:  

You can’t think something and have a computer see it. So Yeah. It’s very easy for, I think, the layman. And I don’t I mean that term derogatively, but people who are outside of our space to see how this will continue to grow at an extremely fast rate. And then, again, there’s several, like, call them big rocks you could point to, like, all the cloud service guys, everybody else that are, you know, spending a ton of money. But then this upstream of that, people want more technology.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:11:30]:  

They just do. And at the end of the  

Mike Netzer [00:11:31]:  

day, that that that points towards additional data center capacity.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:11:35]:  

Yeah. I just I just tell people all the time, we’re we’re just warehouses for ones and zeros. That’s all we are. We’re we’re just warehouses for ones and zeros, and our hope is that there’s more ones and zeros tomorrow. And and I think that that’s a pretty solid thing to hang your your your hopes on is that there’ll be more ones and zeros tomorrow than there are today. And to your point, the the world seems to have an insatiable appetite for new ways to solve problems. So so my technology days go far back enough. We used to use this phrase called the killer app.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:12:05]:  

And what happened is, you know, you design a computer and the computer have all kinds of capabilities, but there were no applications to lay on top of it to use all the computer’s capabilities. Mhmm. And we would wait for the next, what we call, killer app, app that would use up all the compute power so that you’d have to design another computer. And we called it the killer app cycle. Right? And so I started selling computers in the eighties, and, you know, we used to I tell my kids this all the time. We used to someday, there’ll be a computer on everybody’s desk. That was the marketing campaign. Someday, there’ll be a computer on every desk.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:12:36]:  

Yeah. We we kinda blew through the killer app phase, eighties, nineties, 2000s. And then technology got to be pretty ubiquitous, at least in the developed world in the early 2000 and dotcom. And I feel like this AI thing, to bring that phrase back, I feel like AI is about to be the first killer app in years Mhmm. That has so much capability and so much potential and so much unique, opportunity to the marketplace that we’re gonna eat up all the compute power today. Right? And I think that’s what you see driving a great deal of the demand in the business that you monitor and in the business that we try to support. Right? Is is that there’s so much functionality coming, so much capability coming that there are slots of hand wringing about where we’re gonna put it, how we’re gonna power it, how we’re gonna reject the heat, how we’re gonna connect to it. I mean, there’s lots.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:13:35]:  

AI feels to me to be, unlike a killer app that drove some functionality on my computer, it’s the killer app for the industry. Mhmm. Right? It’s it’s got such incredible capabilities, and you alluded to 1. Right? This total video is just created out of thin air. Right? The the the capabilities of what’s coming, I think, are hard to get our arms shot. I don’t I don’t think anyone understands. I I get to be on lots of analyst calls, and there’s no well, inference does this, and model building does that and isn’t this gonna be less and isn’t that gonna be more? And I’m like, I don’t think anybody knows. I mean, not that there aren’t smart people guessing, but I don’t think anyone knows.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:14:10]:  

I think the the only thing we know is there’s gonna be a lot more.  

Mike Netzer [00:14:13]:  

Yeah. And I had never thought of it in those terms about the hardware being designed for something that would then be exceeded by the software demands, but it almost seems like when you explain it that way, it does feel like those 2 are being designed in tandem. Like, NVIDIA’s building  

Raymond Hawkins [00:14:26]:  

That’s right.  

Mike Netzer [00:14:27]:  

GPUs to do very specific things that are  

Raymond Hawkins [00:14:30]:  


Mike Netzer [00:14:30]:  

To support very specific applications. And so that seems like a much more synergistic cycle Yeah. Where, you know, people understand the architecture of the GPUs and they’re building software to run very specifically on that. But I don’t know if you saw any of the clips from the GTC conference, NVIDIA’s GTC conference.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:14:47]:  


Mike Netzer [00:14:47]:  

didn’t. No. No. No. Just some of the the applications that are being designed most specifically around data centers, like the concept of building a digital twin of a data center and basically being able to, you know, continue to eliminate any delay or human error in the process. And that’s one where people go, hey. How is the AI impacting data center design? Well, there’s a whole side of of density and the actual design of the facility, but then the the implementation of the design could be rapidly, accelerated, with some of these, you know, these AI programs and  

then everything else there, you know, being able to basically test every single drug DNA combat combination known to man near infinite. I’m using air quotes, but you can just chew through that and build these or design, you know, drugs, DNA, whatever the case may be.  

Mike Netzer [00:15:34]:  

So those things alone, I mean, those are massive applications that benefit, you know, every single person on the globe benefits from that. So that Yes. Again, if you’re trying to make the case for the continued demand, I don’t think it’s hard. And I but and I also think it’s really exciting. I’m like Yeah. I can’t wait to see what’s gonna churn out of this. And, honestly, you get an iPhone upgrade, a software upgrade, and then they just bake in some stuff that typical to Apple’s MO. You didn’t think you needed, and then you start using it.  

Mike Netzer [00:16:00]:  

You’re like, how did I ever live without this?  

Raymond Hawkins [00:16:02]:  

And how did I ever do this before? Yeah. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:16:05]:  


Raymond Hawkins [00:16:06]:  

The the the function, I mean, it’s a silly one and I know that most people are aware, but the idea of maps. So I have, I drive my trucks for 10 years. And, my previous truck that I drove for 10 years, I sold to my son. So, that truck is now 21 years old because, he’s driven it for 11 years when I sold it to him. And I was, with him the other day, and I opened his glove box, and I got a stack of maps in there. And you just think about, well, yeah, of course. You know, I was driving that truck 11 years ago. I I use maps Yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:16:36]:  

To think that that’s not it’s not even a thing anymore. I mean, I know you can still buy a mask. But, I mean, no one thinks, oh, the way I’m gonna get there is not, hey. Do you do you have a no. The way you’re gonna get there is you’re gonna punch it into Waze Yeah. Or Google Maps or, you know, no one thinks, hey. I’m gonna figure out how to get there by, you know, a map. It’s not even a thought.  

Mike Netzer [00:16:55]:  

Yeah. The the the glove box time capsule.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:16:57]:  

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. It’s exactly right. The glove box and caps. I like that. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:17:02]:  

I mean, I still remember, like, looking up the map in the back of the phone book and, kinda writing it down on a piece. It was pre Internet, And then post Internet, you go look it up on MapQuest, if anybody RIP MapQuest. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe they’re still around.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:17:13]:  

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:17:14]:  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Print  

Raymond Hawkins [00:17:16]:  

in the MapQuest directions.  

Mike Netzer [00:17:17]:  

Print it out.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:17:17]:  

You print them.  

Mike Netzer [00:17:18]:  

Oh, my dad.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:17:18]:  

My dad would get so mad  

Mike Netzer [00:17:19]:  

because it was a full page of color, you know, with all the different directions on it. And then the next page was the actual, you know, turn by turn, but the all the little directional errors were colored. My dad would get so mad. But, anyways  

Raymond Hawkins [00:17:31]:  

So this I like the the glove box time capsule. I got another funny what you just forget. So my in laws are retired, and they live in Myrtle Beach. Few golf courses out there. And a few years back, I’m at the beach with my in laws, and and I wanted to, talk to schedule another tee time that I was down there for. And I told my mother-in-law, I said, I I can’t find their their Internet was down and, poor cell service was I said, I can’t find their phone number. And she says, well, did you look it up? And I’m like, man, I just told you. I can’t I can’t look it up.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:18:03]:  

The Internet’s down. And she pulls opens the drawer and hands me a book, and she goes, no. Did you look it up? And she handed me a phone book. I’m like  

Mike Netzer [00:18:10]:  

Oh my gosh.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:18:11]:  

Oh, yeah. I I guess you can still do that. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:18:14]:  

Grandparents are are great time capsules. They just  

Raymond Hawkins [00:18:17]:  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:18:18]:  

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And that phone book  

Raymond Hawkins [00:18:20]:  

It’s right here. It’s right there in the phone book. Look under g, Raymond. It’s in there. I mean  

Mike Netzer [00:18:24]:  

That’s hilarious. Gosh. That’s amazing. That’s not been that long. You said 11 years ago, you’ve been using paper  

Raymond Hawkins [00:18:31]:  

maps. Well, that’s what I mean. Yeah. Just it’s it’s just it’s just and let’s say just one truck ago, 10 years ago.  

Mike Netzer [00:18:37]:  


Raymond Hawkins [00:18:37]:  

There were maps in my pickup truck and then and completely normal. Yeah. It’s it’s amazing how much change. Alright. So there’s lots change, and we could talk about it. I do wanna go down a path here for a minute around how much the world is growing. Right? When you read about what’s going on in the industry, there’s lots of talk about I mean, it’s funny. I have CNBC on in my office every day.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:18:55]:  

Even on CNBC now, they say, hey. How is the world gonna provide enough energy for data centers? The demand for data centers, the demand for energy to support data centers. So so I’d love to just talk for a minute about, you know, what what what do we think? Just 2 2 guys that are tangentially, you know, in the industry trying to think about where’s the power gonna come from. Is the answer that we’re just gonna move to secondary and tertiary markets and soak up the power there? Or is the answer we’re gonna get more generation? You guys touch more markets than we do. How do you see the power problem getting solved, from from datacenterHawks perch? Oh, look at that. It was your hawks perch. I didn’t do that on purpose.  

Mike Netzer [00:19:33]:  

Yeah. E, all of the above, Alex.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:19:36]:  

Yeah. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:19:36]:  

Yeah. But that that’s semi joking, but, yeah, I mean, really, it’s who can be creative. You know, I think that Amazon purchase of that, Susquehanna facility was a good data point of companies that are are, I think, more and more willing to get creative around that. Yes. Secondary markets is sure, but that that’s probably got there’s a cap on that. These smaller markets can only support so much, and it’s easy for them to go from, like, 50, call it, 50 megawatts to 300. A A lot harder to go from 300 to a1000 or whatever. Like, there’s there’s some scale challenges that that come into play.  

Mike Netzer [00:20:10]:  

You know, I did I did say before we jumped on this call, like, as I mentioned at the top of the call, my dad was on a nuclear submarine in the seventies, and they’ve had nuclear technology and subs since the fifties. And so I just tend to not really buy the they’re not safe argument. Now a nuclear sub is probably a little bit safer than maybe call it commercially developed product, but in general, they are safe. And so, you know, I think the PR problems or legislative problems that nuclear, you know, faces could potentially be overcome by the economic benefits, over time. Yeah. Anyway, so that’s that’s my hope. Again, not not a nuclear energy specialist, but, you know, I think that plus the the whole non we’re not gonna shut down the plant in Michigan data point, I think are very encouraging, for the industry as a whole.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:20:57]:  

Yeah. So so I don’t I don’t wanna sound like a nuclear energy shill when you go through the long list of of not your father’s data center sponsors. None of them are nuclear power companies. But when I think about, you know, the concerns, especially for our customers, the big customers in our industry, their concerns around carbon, The only economically viable answer today at scale, that has, carbon, minimal carbon impact is a nuclear answer.  

Mike Netzer [00:21:25]:  


Raymond Hawkins [00:21:26]:  

And that I tend to think that markets figure out things that make the most sense. It takes time, but they figure them out, whether regulatory, changes have to take place or whether people’s emotional feelings have to take place around safety. I got it. Fukushima and Three Mile Island, myself, and and Chernobyl, all are in the collective memory. I think the the notion that, hey. We’ve got to do this at scale, or we’ve got to do this without, adding to the global carbon, you know, emissions. I think it makes a lot of sense. Wherever you fall in the concerns about our environment, I don’t know how you think, nuclear doesn’t make sense.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:22:03]:  

You know, it’s it’s, you know, got a great safety track record in spite of those three accidents. I think there’s reasons to explain all of those, safety in the in terms of of human lives. And, man, as far as the ability to generate nonstop clean energy and and getting to see so Microsoft made an announcement of the AWS announcement and then the Michigan announcement. I think all three of those help set the tone that that our industry is gonna start heading in that direction. And I hope the market pressures make it easier in the US and around the the globe to, you know, to to fund, commission, you know, whatever all the things have to happen in title, you know, get get those plants online because we’re gonna need more generation. The bottom line is we’re gonna need more generation, and we’re we’re running out globally for sure.  

Mike Netzer [00:22:50]:  

Yeah. I think, you know, one of the major trends we’re seeing is just, like, the increasing deal size. So this is kind of tangentially related to nuclear, but, you know, years ago, it was 20, 30 megawatts was a big deal. Now it was 72, then it was a 100, and now we’re seeing multiple 100 megawatt deals get signed. We’re hearing rumors of 1,000 to 1500 megawatt deals, which I think then that helps the cause of nuclear and it because if you’re trying to build a 300 megawatt data center in Michigan, great example, take our mission example, like, you may be not going to commit to a level that would, you know, make the economic sense for a nuclear plant to be unshuttered. Now if you’re doing a 1000 megawatt campus or a 2,000 megawatt campus, that makes that easier. So I’d I’d again, very light googling, but found this list of, you know, 12 nuclear plants that have been shuttered since 2013. And 11 of those 12 were citing basically economic concerns.  

Mike Netzer [00:23:42]:  

They were losing money, power prices. We couldn’t support the operation. I think some of those economic models may change over time. Yeah. As we sort of, quote, unquote, run out of traditional, whether that’s coal or traditional renewables.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:23:55]:  

Right. Right. Right. I  

Mike Netzer [00:23:56]:  

think some of the math mathematics is changing.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:23:59]:  

Yeah. No question. I I I you you see somebody that that has a load ramp that gets them to a gigawatt, you know, on on your on your generation, and it starts to go, okay. That’s a big customer. Mhmm. And that makes that makes a difference. I mean, that that changes anybody’s  

math. I mean, I know you and I sit in Texas and, you know, that that changes the math for ERCOT, you know, a a gigawatt.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:24:20]:  

So those size deals, I think, are making things that weren’t economically viable literally 3 years ago look different. Yeah. And and so much of that is being driven by AI. I’m gonna ask you a a power related question, and then no no right or wrong answer, but, just just something to think about. I see her as a as a data center provider often in the market, man, you guys use a lot of power. Man, you so to support you guys, you’re really taxing our grid. You’re taxing our how you oh my goodness. That that in you know, so I hear a little bit of this, your industry uses lots of power.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:24:55]:  

I tend to think of our industry doesn’t use a lot of power. And I know you wait a minute. Raymond, that didn’t make any sense. We just talked about scale. We’re not using the power. I’m providing utility power to someone who’s providing a service. Mhmm. Right? And and and the analogy I’ve used before, no one drives by the airport and goes, man, how much power is that airport? Do you know how much power that airport uses? Mhmm.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:25:18]:  

No one says that. They show up to the airport and they go, I’m going to Nana’s house. Yeah. Right? They they don’t they don’t associate the airport with using electricity and what’s its carbon footprint and all that. It’s the the airport that does it it’s it provides a service. You get your packages on the FedEx. It gets you to Nana’s house and gets Nana to come home to you. Right? That’s what the way we see an airport.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:25:36]:  

That’s the emotions we have with an airport. And I and I think the data center is too ethereal still. People don’t go, well, let me let me what do I get out of there? Right? Because at the end of the day, all the things you and I do on our cell phone all runs through a data center somewhere. So you to stick with the airport, you ordered your plane ticket. You did that through your phone that ran through a data center. You took an Uber to the airport that ran through your phone that ran through a data center. Right? When you got to your you booked a hotel that you did through your phone, and it ran through a data center. When you got to your hotel, you didn’t like the room service, so you ordered Uber Eats that went through a data center.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:26:11]:  

Right? All of these functions, yes, the data center is using energy, but it’s really using energy just like the airport takes you somewhere or brings someone to you. The data center is providing all  

of these services. And and I’m not trying to I’m not trying to dodge the data center uses energy. I’m trying to think, is there a way for us as an industry to to recast and say, hey. Look at the services we’re providing, instead of look at the energy we’re consuming. And and not in a way to distract, but to say, you know, to to to connect the dots more than anything, I guess.  

Mike Netzer [00:26:44]:  

Yeah. I know. I think it’s a there is a perception challenge, and I’d I’d almost liken it to you know, when we speak to investors in the space, they there’s no consensus. In my opinion, that’s how data centers are treated from an investment standpoint. We hear, like, kind of a third infrastructure, a third real estate, and a third private equity. And so Right. I I do like the term digital infrastructure. I I I I would worry if I was if I was the PR person for this industry as a whole, I would worry that term would then treat us like a commodity, and I don’t think that’s how we would love to be perceived.  

Mike Netzer [00:27:19]:  

But to your point, it it is very much nearly in the same category as, like, a water or sewer utility or roads that it’s become that. As far as daily use, dependence on it for more or less everything we do, this this call is being recorded over digital infrastructure. I mean, you name it. Most of our cars are connected. Certainly, everybody has a smartphone. And so Yeah. I’d I’d like to think there’s still room there’s room for us to get some credit for providing that again, not a public service, but almost a public service while giving us the ability to differentiate ourselves company by company and have additional value provided on top of that. Because, again, I think of water main as an infrastructure, a piece of infrastructure, a toll road is not necessarily the comp we’re looking for.  

Mike Netzer [00:28:05]:  

That makes sense?  

Raymond Hawkins [00:28:05]:  

I mean Yeah. Should certainly from an investor and financial analysis standpoint, I get where you’re saying not the comp we’re looking for. But I do think, the the viewing data centers as as critical infrastructure Mhmm. To a community is where we’re headed. And and, you know, you you use toll road and and water main or water treatment plant. Those are critical infrastructure. And I I don’t think data centers at some point in our future, data centers are going to be viewed as much as critical infrastructure as those things. A harbor, an airport, a train station, train lines, train tracks, freeways, water, you know, electrical distribution.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:28:46]:  

It is it is that vital to the way of life, at least in the developed world. And I think we’ll get treated more and more like infrastructure, and viewed as long term stable infrastructure. And as as we see the the the revolution that’s coming from AI and how dependent every industry starts to become on what tech does for them. I think that’s only going to accelerate us being viewed as critical infrastructure for a community, not just critical infrastructure for technology companies. Yeah. I guess what I was trying to get out  

Mike Netzer [00:29:18]:  

of there. Bill Klayman said recently that it’s what did he say? He said something about the it’s technology is the hope of mankind, something to that effect. And he almost said it tongue in cheek, but I don’t think he was really joking because to your point, yes, everything is increasingly dependent. And I think we’ve done a really good job at maintaining uptime to the point that you sometimes you lose power at your house. Occasionally, you lose water. That’s extremely annoying. And you lose internet. It’s extremely annoying, but the industry’s done a good job of maintaining those services, you know, with redundancy and everything else so that people haven’t, you know, experienced.  

Mike Netzer [00:29:51]:  

So when you think about the bridge that recently collapsed in Baltimore and how disruptive that will be to 100 of 1,000, millions of people’s daily commute for the next Yeah. Years until they can rebuild it. I can’t think of an, an analogous event with the Internet. Like, can you think of something? Now everything you do is gonna take twice as long to do because Yeah. Some critical line of communication was out.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:30:14]:  

So so you and I, both in Texas, this kind of crystallized for me, during our snowmageddon. What was that 3 years ago Mhmm. When, you know, at least at my house, we had no power for 8 days. Days. Right? Was it might be 4 years ago. Was it 2020? I don’t remember. COVID and all that runs together. Yep.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:30:30]:  

But but that that for me, Christmas so 8 days with no electricity, you know, you you begin to appreciate and and electricity, the foundation building block for the digitization of, of our world. No electricity. It was shocking to me all the things in my life that didn’t work. Mhmm. Right? That that I mean, there was there was no redundant if we didn’t have electricity, I didn’t have a redundant system now, you know, to to manage and run so many other things. It was shocking, how nothing if my life worked. Right? Could could couldn’t keep food cold, so no refrigeration, no freezer. Right? You food all went bad.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:31:10]:  

Couldn’t stay up with the news, couldn’t run the Internet, couldn’t work. You phone only held a charge for, you know, a day, right, and couldn’t charge it again. I mean, there were so many things that electricity infrastructure tied, into, and I think that’s where digital infrastructure is going, that it’s going to be that vital. And and I got it that it’s run on electricity, but I mean, I think it’s going to be as vital as electricity, which is why I I tend to make the argument it’s it’s going it is very infrastructure centric and how, the the world will be quickly incapable of functioning without the digital infrastructure that supports it very, very quickly. It was funny. I was compared it. I went to Africa on a mission trip, and, someone came running up to me taking pictures with a cell phone in a village that had no electricity. I thought that was very odd.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:31:58]:  

And, so it was like, hey. Why do you have a cell phone when you get a cell phone? And long story short, they bring batteries in to charge everyone’s cell phone, and then there’s a generator and a cell tower. And they said, hey. They did that for communications because they never had landlines, so they just skipped over the landline phase. So there’s no plumbing in the city. There’s no electrical distribution in the city, but there’s a cell tower. Because they dropped one cell tower and then people just shipped batteries in and everyone could communicate. And that was, you know, just stunning to me that that that that piece of technology fundamentally changed the way that community communicated with 1 cell tower.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:32:36]:  

You know, they had a, generator that ran the cell tower and batteries. Yeah. Just just just crazy.  

Mike Netzer [00:32:43]:  

Yeah. I think we’re a little bit spoiled, so I would bet that when your power went out for 8 days and you didn’t have home Internet, now you probably go you could get cell based Internet. Again, once again, that’s kind of a testament to the space that For  

Raymond Hawkins [00:32:56]:  

as long as your cell phone  

Mike Netzer [00:32:57]:  

has power, but it yeah. And so, yes, power is the kind of the one thing that drives all of that, but the power grid, the water grid, the traffic lights, you name it, is increasingly, you know, dependent on the digital infrastructure to run it. So you to your point. I mean, I I 100% agree. Like, it’s reached the level of public utility as far as criticality, in nature. I wonder, you know, I again, this is probably beyond the scope of this conversation, but, like, does it make sense? Do you think that means we’ll see, like, publicly owned and operated data centers or digital infrastructure? Will that become a state, utility? Right.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:33:34]:  


Mike Netzer [00:33:34]:  

And what does that mean for the space?  

Raymond Hawkins [00:33:36]:  

Yeah. Whether it’s the infrastructure or even all the way down to the compute. Right? I mean, I I don’t think either you or I or maybe in our teams will need to see that, but I definitely think you could see that and and that’s kinda where I was going with water and and and power lines and whatnot. I think you can see the digital infrastructure becomes a key community building block Mhmm. That the that the community can’t function. And then and then at some point, you a little bit, you alluded to the commoditization. Right? It becomes a commodity and it’s, oh, this is the technology solution for this community. It gets provided this way, and it’s a quasi government, you know, rate case like the power generation  

Mike Netzer [00:34:11]:  


Raymond Hawkins [00:34:11]:  

like, water. Right? You know? But probably not in either of our lifetimes, but I think you can see that end up being a thing.  

Mike Netzer [00:34:17]:  

Yeah. You can see where it’s going.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:34:18]:  

Well, I’m gonna completely change the subject. We’ve also talked about, hey. This is a great industry to be in, and we feel fortunate. Also have a hard time, accepting the fact that we have to do a conference every year in Hawaii, which I think is the last time you and I were in a room together. Mhmm. So, feel feel really fortunate that, we have to go to Hawaii every January It is. To talk about data centers. That’s a tough that’s a tough road.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:34:40]:  

It’s a bird and a bear. To carry that.  

Mike Netzer [00:34:42]:  


Raymond Hawkins [00:34:42]:  

I’m I’m I’m willing to carry that bird for a few more years at least.  

Mike Netzer [00:34:45]:  

Thank you for your service. I Yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:34:47]:  

Yeah. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:34:47]:  

It’s a hard one.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:34:48]:  

That to be recognized, and I’m willing to do that, for the industry. Yeah.  

Mike Netzer [00:34:51]:  

Yeah. And it yeah.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:34:52]:  

I would also Hawaii in in January.  

Mike Netzer [00:34:54]:  

In January. Yeah. Exactly. It’s it’s a really rough one, especially when it’s, you know, 40 and windy year and everyone else coming from everywhere else that we’re just living it up in the 80 degree weather with the the mai tai and the sand. Yeah. It’s rough.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:35:06]:  

But that that you did not mention seeing me at the airport with my golf clubs. I appreciate that you did not mention that. I was there working the entire time.  

Mike Netzer [00:35:13]:  

Yeah. You were there. Yeah. Exactly. There was just, you know, files and presentations and extra computers in there. Just like a golf bag.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:35:20]:  

That’s exactly right. It looked like a golf bag, but it was just, gear that I handed out to people. It was just shots.  

Mike Netzer [00:35:26]:  

Swag. Yeah. Exactly. You were doing you were diligently, doing your work. If anyone’s listening, he was working hard even in the airport.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:35:35]:  

Even in the airport.  

Mike Netzer [00:35:35]:  

Even in the airport.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:35:36]:  

Red eye flight, he’s talking data center to the guy next to him. Him. Exactly right. I asked him. I said, hey. Do you need any, well, your power in, let’s say, Idaho? Yeah. That’s right. I was I was I was definitely engaged.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:35:47]:  

Yep. Yep. Good stuff. Well, man, we’re we’re lucky to be in the business we’re in. I’m gonna ask you one more, and I’m gonna put you on the spot. You you you got 5 years, so you kinda got a a a very educated view of the world, but still kind of fresh Mhmm. Take on our industry. Tell me one thing that surprised you in your in your first 5 years in this space.  

Mike Netzer [00:36:07]:  

You know, again, this is coming from the pension space. So in the pension world, it’s it’s a dying industry. It’s a dying Right. Everybody’s shutting stuff down. Everybody’s freezing stuff. Anyways, so to come there, I don’t know how much it surprised me, but the the optimism in the space. I wanna say the optimism and the ingenuity, and that it seems like anytime there is some type of problem, it’s going to get solved. I have every confidence in the world that power challenges, the design challenges, the, you know, any type of regulatory thing, it will get solved.  

Mike Netzer [00:36:40]:  

And not just because people are throwing money at it or they’re bullying their way through it, but that there’s just so much in really healthy way, like entrepreneurship and creativity in this space that has been if if you would probably before I joined the space, again, I think we had a data center in my old company, and the guys who ran it were kind of like IT dorks.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:36:57]:  

Right. Right. Right.  

Mike Netzer [00:36:58]:  

So my pressure was like, oh, it’s just it is kind of this boring thing, that has not been the case at all. It’s extremely exciting, and the people I’ve met in the space are are really, really cool. Since some of  

Raymond Hawkins [00:37:10]:  

the people we’ve had on our podcast, some of the people you had on your podcast, just the people in  

Mike Netzer [00:37:13]:  

this space are are really fun, that I’ve I’ve really enjoyed, and it’s not it’s far exceeded my expectations from, an industry standpoint.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:37:21]:  

Yeah. Optimism. That that’s a good way to say it. Right? I appreciate that that, an industry that is looked up for as long as it has and and continues to look up, It is fun to be around. Right? We’re we’re not, I got asked the case I get asked the case, why did I leave the technology business that that I left 11 years ago? You know, I I would just say you in the first 11 years I was in that business, we bought 4 companies. And then the next 4 years I was in that business, we bought 18 companies. The only way to grow was to acquire our competition because the industry wasn’t growing anymore. And so buying companies and firing people was not an optimistic way to go to work every day.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:37:57]:  

Mhmm. I hated it. And it was one of the reasons I chose to to get out. And and stumbling into the data center business 11 years ago was just really, really lucky. I’m gonna I’m not I’m not gonna say stumble. That shows disrespect. I don’t know if you’ll even listen to this, but the head of sales at at, Stack Infrastructure, Ty Miller, recruited me to Digital Realty and and did a wonderful job convincing me to leave the tech business and get in the data center business. So I don’t wanna do, disrespect to Ty to say I stumbled into it.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:38:23]:  

He he recruited hard to convince me to leave and come to the data center business, and and boy am I fortunate for it. So glad to be in the business. Thank you, Ty. Tip of the hat to you for pushing hard to get me to join the space, and and optimism’s a great way to describe it, Mike. It’s it’s a fun space with lots of talented people that are, smart, got lots of capital solving really hard problems, but doing it with a smile on their face because, man, the future is awfully bright, and and we’re both lucky to be  

Mike Netzer [00:38:49]:  

here. Yeah. I think from our standpoint, we’re we’re not out there building data centers. So the challenge for us is to figure out what is the most important thing. What do our customers care most about beyond just some of the core things we do? What there’s a feel like there’s 10 to a 100 other things we could go do that would add value to the space, and that’s a really good problem to have. And I don’t know if y’all are facing the same thing, but it’s there is some it’s almost an abundance of opportunity, which is, again, a really healthy thing and something that it gets me excited every day.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:39:17]:  

Yeah. Alright, Mike. That’s our VP of sales at DatacenterHawk. Before we go, you gotta get Rhett back on camera. I know he’s on early, but I’m sure we’re not gonna get him on the show.  

Mike Netzer [00:39:25]:  

Rhett, Rhett, can you  

Raymond Hawkins [00:39:26]:  

turn around and say hi? Come on. There you go, Rhett.  

Mike Netzer [00:39:29]:  

Rhett, ladies and gentlemen.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:39:31]:  

By the way, now now that he’s been on screen, his agent, you know, will will be sending us a contract. We have  

Mike Netzer [00:39:36]:  

to pay  

Raymond Hawkins [00:39:36]:  

him now that he may not  

Mike Netzer [00:39:37]:  

agree. He’s a union guy. We know that.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:39:39]:  

Yeah. So I say yeah. Just wanna make sure we got him on screen.  

Mike Netzer [00:39:41]:  

That’s great.  

Raymond Hawkins [00:39:42]:  

Well, man, Mike, I really appreciate getting to chat with you. It’s always, fun to to hear what you guys are doing over there. As you know, we think the world of David and and what you guys are doing, and we appreciate the partnership and appreciate your insights, and and thank you for joining me.  

Mike Netzer [00:39:54]:  

Yeah. Absolutely, Ram. The feeling’s mutual. This was a ton of fun, and thanks for having me on.