Jim Smith has stood down as leader of Equinix's hyperscale joint venture xScale, to be replaced by the division's CFO Krupal Raval.

Equinix CEO Charles Meyers gave no reason for the change in an earnings call this week, but said things are going well at xScale. The venture was formed two years ago with financial backing from GIC in Singapore, to compete with Digital Realty in the hyperscale market - and both Smith and Krupal were directly hired from senior roles at Digital Realty.

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Equinix's LD10 data center in Slough is one of the initial facilities run by xScale – Google Street view

Some adjustments

"Things continue to really go well in [xScale]" said Meyers in the call. "We did have some adjustments. Jim Smith has made the decision to step down from his role as Managing Director of the program but does remain as an adviser to the initiative. And we've asked Krupal Raval, who's been on the xScale team now for a period of time ...to step into the MD role."

Equinix is the leader in colocation data centers that house enterprise businesses. These make a higher margin than the wholesale colocation sector, dominated by Digital Realty, but wholesale colo is growing incredibly fast, driven by the hypergrowth of cloud players. Equinix has announced xScale, a separate operation to its colocation business which will pump some $5 billion into building and running wholesale colocation round the world.

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Krupal Raval, Equinix – Equinix

Smith, formerly CTO at Digital Realty, joined Equinix in 2018; Raval came from a role as Digital's APAC CFO in 2019. In October 2019, Equinix created a$1 billion joint venture with Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, to create and run hyperscale data centers in Europe. In April 2020, Equinix and GIC announced a further $1 billion deal to run hyperscale facilities in Japan. Both joint ventures bought existing data centers from Equinix, including LD10 in London, PA8 in Paris, and TY12 and OS2 in Japan.

The change is very early in the game for xScale, given that it only formally began late in 2019. At the start of last year, Krupal Raval was fronting Digital's APAC strategy. Now he's leading Equinix's nascent hyperscale efforts worldwide. "He's really kept the continuity with the team," said Meyers. "The team that's been recruited in there, I think, is incredibly strong, very experienced and has really started to hit their stride. So it's going well."

xScale is shortly to add a new hyperscale data center, PA9 in Paris, which Meyers said is fully pre-leased to an undisclosed hyperscaler: "And we continue to see good customer interest in pipeline on the other facilities."

The Japanese joint venture will be formally completed later in 2020, said Meyers: "And then we're looking at additional JVs beyond that."

In its earnings call, Equinix reported $1.47 billion in revenue for the second quarter, which was up six percent from last year. It reported very little impact from the Covid-19 pandemic.