- Hodes Weill
Deep Dive: Why digital is the next frontier for private capital
With commercial properties shuttered and daily life shifted online, data-centric real estate has thus found itself higher on investor wish-lists.
In March, as covid-19 spread across Europe and North America, it brought most forms of commerce to a halt. Offices and shops were closed by government order, bringing the physical exchange of goods and services to almost standstill. Travel restrictions left otherwise vibrant hotels and leisure destinations empty.
Not all business has been stifled. Teams, Microsoft’s online workplace communication platform, saw its monthly users soar 775 percent. Zoom, the video chat service, hit 200 million daily users – up from a December 2019 peak of 10 million. Calls through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp nearly doubled overnight. But the retreat by large swathes of the world’s consumers and workers to a virtual alternative reality has had an immediate impact on most types of commercial real estate. Work, shopping, socializing, even medical appointments have shifted online.
Yet, the online versions of these functions require some form of physical accommodation. They are underpinned by a network of real assets: data centers, cell towers, small cells and fiber lines. The longer the pandemic persists, the more important this digital real estate is to become to societies at large, but also to investors hoping to future-proof their investment portfolios.
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