Betting on Change
With a background in music and real estate and a love of flying and surfing, Avner Papouchado breaks any preconceptions one may have about data center executives. Hear this entertaining #NomadFuturist podcast to learn about his journey from music to opportunistic real estate to the world of data centers and his current role as CEO of ServerFarm.
Hailing from a family of real estate developers in Israel, Papouchado came to New York in the early 90s to study and pursue his first love — music. He spent a few years performing as a guitarist before deciding that the touring life of a professional musician was not for him.
He decided to go into real estate — buying and selling inexpensive apartments in Texas, then moving on to condos and office buildings and ultimately, data centers.
Papouchado is generous in sharing his process and strategy for timing investments.
“If your view of the world is to find this one rock that nobody yet knows is valuable, knowing that one day it’s somehow going to become a diamond…you can end up with a lot of rocks! It’s easier to figure out where the world is going to be, where the momentum is, and jump on it a little later.”
Papouchado humbly acknowledges his good fortune! “If I could trade brains for luck, I would do it every day of the week.”
He shares a unique take on data center efficiency coming from a real estate operational perspective. He sees facility utilization being sub-optimal, often running at just 30% of capacity, with clients not knowing how much space to order. He is committed to driving greater efficiencies. He is motivated by a sense of responsibility and a strong customer focus.
“At the end of the day, computers don’t love you. It’s all people. It’s a people business. We serve people. I want to provide the best solution possible. My job is to make the physical as easy as possible and more sustainable.”
Where does Papouchado see the industry going?
“More and more, facilities will be oriented around energy sources, particularly sustainable ones. The big data centers are not going to be a real estate problem, they are going to be a power problem.”
He is fundamentally optimistic and encourages the young to pursue options that can lead to fulfillment. In terms of the data center business, he believes:
“It’s a great business that has a lot of opportunity in it…it’s a very young industry, like the automotive industry in the 1940s…One thing you can bet on is change!”
As the Founder and CEO of Serverfarm, Papouchado has been an instrumental force in the internet infrastructure market with his innovative approach to data center sustainability and growth. Papouchado’s formula of modernizing existing data center facilities using Serverfarm’s Data Center Management as a Service (DMaaS) approach has proved to be a sustainable and efficient way to meet the high capacity demands of customers.
As Red Sea Group’s North American CEO since 1993 and an active member of the executive management team responsible for the company’s worldwide investment strategy, Papouchado has a proven track record of successful real estate investments. Bringing this real estate acumen together with his strategic approach in the data center sector has propelled him as a thought leader in the industry and helped enterprises accelerate their digital transformation.
Papouchado received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the New School for Social Research in New York. He is a certified pilot and avid surfer.