GLP hires ex-Microsoft exec to lead global data center business

The Singapore-based logistics specialist has tapped Jennifer Weitzel to accelerate growth of the platform.

GLP has hired Jennifer Weitzel as president of its global data center business to oversee all areas of the Singapore-based manager’s operations in the sector outside of China, PERE has exclusively learned.

The first focus in Weitzel’s new role is hiring the right team. GLP’s overall data center platform has approximately 600 people globally, with around 40-50 ex-China employees that the firm began hiring last year. Weitzel wants ‘boots on the ground’ in some of the key growth markets, but didn’t disclose how many people the firm planned on hiring. Outside of the US, those key markets include Brazil and the UK, as well as Japan, where the firm has an existing presence in Tokyo and Osaka. In the US, Northern Virginia, Chicago, Phoenix and the Bay Area are the main focuses, Weitzel said.

Jennifer Weitzel

To serve the global market and the key tenant base – tech companies – GLP made the strategic decision for Weitzel to sit in Seattle. Facebook, Google, Oracle and Amazon are all leasing and building more office space in the Pacific Northwest, so having a presence in the market allows GLP to be closer to the right talent. The data center market is in its nascency, meaning much of the talent that understands this property type often comes from the tech companies, Weitzel explained.

“There’s a center of gravity around this market for both top talent and also being present for prospective customers as well,” Weitzel said. “I think it’s important to be present in the market where a lot of the new product offerings are being rolled out.”

GLP began its data center business in 2018, focused solely on China. In February this year, the firm signaled for the first time its intent to invest in the sector outside of China, targeting Japan. Since then, GLP has acquired land to deliver over 600 megawatts of capacity on sites in Tokyo and Osaka. It has also purchased land in London and Brazil but has yet to make an investment in North America, Weitzel said.

The China business is being kept separate because it was established four years ago and is  overseen by Frank Shen. The firm’s global portfolio of data centers consists of around 2,500 megawatts of IT load capacity, according to its corporate fact sheet, most of that in China currently.

GLP’s data center business is looking to expand using capital “on hand,” Weitzel said. The firm confirmed to PERE in May that it would need between $12 billion and $13 billion of capital expenditure to deliver 900 megawatts of data center capacity to Japan alone. Weitzel said that GLP plans to seek future third-party capital for the strategy but declined to disclose details at this time.

Weitzel will report directly to Ming Mei, CEO and co-founder of GLP. Her most recent role was as vice-president, cloud infrastructure lease and M&A for Microsoft. Weitzel spent six years total at the tech giant, also serving in acquisitions and strategy roles during her tenure there. Prior to Microsoft, Weitzel spent almost eight years with data center real estate investment trust Digital Realty. She was responsible for building out Digital Realty’s EMEA business, having joined when the firm was in the early days of its expansion outside of the US, she said.

Her global experience extends beyond Digital Realty, having worked as a director of development for British grocery chain Tesco, on the construction leadership team for the development of Heathrow Terminal 5 and in land development for Walmart.

Weitzel’s hire at GLP comes amid booming demand for data centers globally, according to CBRE research. In the US, net absorption in primary markets in the second half of 2021 almost doubled year-over-year, from 158.5 megawatts to 351.7 megawatts. In Asia-Pacific, during the same time period, supply in the top four markets – Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong – set a six-month record delivering 305 megawatts. In Europe, demand from hyperscalers is expected to drive take-up to over 300 megawatts by the end of this year.