Mount Pleasant startup blends real estate and tech in data center deals – Charleston Post Courier

A Mount Pleasant company is making real estate investments, focused on the market of the physical places where an ever-increasing volume of data is stored. 

The firm, called EdgePWR, is purchasing data centers outside of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. The company’s success in its first two years speaks to a growing need for data, and not only within traditional business centers. 

Matthew Chapdelaine, a managing partner at the firm, said EdgePWR is growing faster than he expected when he co-founded it with colleague Jim La Marche in 2018.

Though the phrase “edge data center, where the company gets its name, is far outside the average person’s lexicon, the problems these hubs work to solve affect anyone connected to the internet. 

A data center is a place where data is stored on servers. The centralization provides better security for data, and its operators take on the responsibility of keeping the technology cool and other maintenance. Google has a data center it values at $2.4 billion in Berkeley County; the company says it employs 400 people there. 

As individuals and businesses of all sizes amass huge amounts of data, the need for an infrastructure to store all of those bits of information has grown. In fact, analysts at Cisco predict the volume of data globally will be quadruple the capacity that our data centers can manage. More infrastructure is needed.

If that infrastructure is closer to the person or the business, retrieving it is faster. A market has sprung up for “edge” data centers in more outlying parts of the country, therefore. 

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This de-centralization of where data is stored is a $5.5 billion market globally, and is projected to reach a $20 billion value by 2026, according to Global Market Insights.

EdgePWR isn’t a data center operator, however. Instead, it is buying the real estate where these scattered data centers are housed and leasing it back to operators, mainly offering long leases. Most of its leadership team comes from a background in real estate investment or finance.

Chapdelaine founded another startup in Chicago that sought to analyze “an ocean of real estate data,” as he puts it on his LinkedIn page. It was around the time he moved to Charleston that he began to notice the need for data storage in smaller towns. 

“The vast majority of data center capacity is in a handful of markets. There’s this need for computing at the edge,” he said. “Companies want their data to be closer to them.” 

The company made the local news in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when it purchased a business center and former mall that had been up for bid there for more than a year, according to The Advocate newspaper. 

The pandemic has only sped along the market and EdgePWR’s growth, Chapledaine said, as people connect more devices to the internet and work disperses throughout the country. It was one of multiple deals that closed for the company in 2020, and Chapledaine said more acquisitions and closings are expected in 2021.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.


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