Featured in The Edge Magazine, IO CEO George Slessman Talks Global Growth, Partnerships, and Family Ties

George Slessman

IO CEO George Slessman was featured on the April 20th cover of The Edge, a Singapore-based business magazine. The story profiled George’s full commitment to the global future of IO. In the story, George explains why he relocated to Singapore and talks about IO’s partnership there with StarHub. And, he gets personal, talking about his relationship with brother William and his early start as a tech entrepreneur. Here are highlights from the story.

On moving to Singapore:

“Early this year, Slessman relocated to Singapore to lead and drive the company’s growth in the region more effectively. ‘We are very keen to grow in Asia and Asean more specifically. My presence here is a reminder to the company every day that it is important and that despite the fact that Singapore may be more than 10,000km away from the US, we are a Singapore business and it is important for us to be here.’”

“[T]he broader, underlying trends are in favour of companies such as IO. More people are getting online and many are relying on the Internet to play and do business. Asia, with the world’s largest Internet population, is where IO needs to be. ‘Our view is that we have to be in Asia and we have to have a commitment to the Asian market. I don’t think of us as a US company. I think of us as a global company. The Internet is global; it is not specific to an individual, a region, or a country.’ Singapore stands out in Asia, both as IO’s regional business headquarters as well as a place in which to locate its technology. ‘Frankly, it was an easy choice,’ Slessman says.”

On IO’s partnership with StarHub:

“Last September, IO and StarHub inked an agreement for a strategic partnership. Under this exclusive deal, StarHub will use IO’s data centre modules as a key building block within its broader enterprise offerings, branded as ‘StarHub Data Centre Powered by IO’. ‘StarHub is our access to the local market. It is doing an extraordinarily good job,’ says Slessman. StarHub is drawn in turn by what IO is able to offer. ‘Our partnership with IO allows us to provide our customers with a secure IT infrastructure that is reliable, more cost-efficient to scale and that operates in an energy-efficient facility,’ says StarHub’s chief commercial officer Kevin Lim.”

“Of course, with the cross-border nature of the telecommunications business, StarHub also works with other service providers and data centre providers around the region. This gives the two companies additional avenues to work together. For example, IO will use StarHub’s submarine cable network to connect to IO facilities elsewhere and to Asia, where it plans to open new data centres. ‘We are also keen on co-developing innovative solutions to enhance the data centre operations, for example, self-learning systems in the data centre, leveraging real-time analytics,’ says Lim.”

Hear more from StarHub’s Kevin Lim in this video.

“Slessman notes that he has spent the past year working and building a relationship with StarHub’s management team. ‘I feel like there is real engagement, that there is a like-minded culture in our two companies, how we think about our customers and how we work with our customers and how we think about technology in general, which is just very comfortable.’”

On the entrepreneurial spirit:

“Like many technology entrepreneurs, Slessman has been tinkering with gadgets from a young age. His parents did everything to support his inquisitive nature, indulging Slessman and his younger brother with new devices and products even when affordability was sometimes an issue. For example, he got his first PC when he was eight, at a time when these machines were by no means commonplace and affordable like they are today.”

“To satisfy his curiosity, he took things apart and put them back – including the first video cassette recorder his family bought. He thought he had returned the VCR to its original state, but there were still some parts left over. ‘I was not sure where they were supposed to go,’ he says. Somehow, the VCR was able to function – it could play and record – except for one small glitch: It could not eject the video tapes. To cover up his mistake, Slessman made a hole in the VCR so that he could get the tape out. ‘Whenever it came time to eject that tape, I would volunteer to do it, so that no one would know it was broken. I doubt to this day that my father knows,’ he quips.”

On his relationship with William Slessman, now CEO of BASELAYER:

“While [George] Slessman is the face of IO, [his brother] William is also actively involved. The 41-year-old [George] Slessman and William, who is two years younger, have been close all their lives. ‘We went to college together, we played sports together all the way through high school and frankly, I can’t imagine a world in which we are not together. I think we will be working together until one of us dies,’ says Slessman.”

About his move to Singapore, Slessman says, “I do miss having my brother in the office every day. It’s the saddest part of the whole transaction.”

Founded in 2007, IO provides the data centre as a service to businesses and governments around the world. Learn more at IO.com.