We had the pleasure this week of sitting down with Mike Armstrong and Michael Wong (aka Strong & Wong), managing directors at Stream Realty Partners. With Ivy League degrees and serious industry bona fides, the dynamic duo is driving results for customers and investors while ‘leveling up’ Stream as a wholly integrated solution.
Mike Armstrong and Michael Wong joined Stream Realty Partners (the parent company of Stream Data Centers) as managing directors last September. The dynamic duo, also known as Strong & Wong, have deep experience in real estate acquisition and new business development across multiple property types. The two first worked together as co-heads of acquisitions for GI Partners’ technology real estate platform, which they were intimately involved in growing from inception to an eight million square foot portfolio of data center, life science, and technology office assets across the United States.
The attraction was simple: It’s the people
Barb Mitchell: Joining Stream was a big move for you both. With your backgrounds and your amazing reputations across the industry, what led you to join Stream last year?
Mike Armstrong: It’s a simple answer: the people. As we all know, real estate, data centers – it’s a very relationship-forward business. And over the years we’ve come to know the folks here – both on the Stream Realty Partners side and on the data center side – quite well. Out and about at conferences and industry events, and then more intimately, looking at deals and working on deals together. And it just became apparent that Stream was a different type of place and everyone cared about each other. It was almost palpable when you were with them – the energy that the team exuded. I wanted to be a part of that. I’m glad to report that inside the firm, it’s just as good as it looked from the outside.
It’s apparent that Stream is a different type of place where everyone cares about each other. I wanted to be a part of that.
– Mike Armstrong
Michael Wong: I thought it was a pretty easy decision as well. I think that the folks here are just so passionate about what they do and committed in terms of product expertise and market expertise. And you really get a sense of that when you talk to anyone – ranging from a critical engineering person on the data center side to the head of the firm, to the various heads of offices on the office and industrial side. They’re all willing to support what you’re trying to do within Stream, happy to share what they’re working on. And just great people to get to know.
Barb: I’ve heard that so consistently about Stream, about the team and the people. So it’s been over six months now for you both; we’re into the second half of your first year with Stream. How has it been so far?
Mike: You know, consistent with the rest of the world, it’s been a very extraordinary year with the pandemic overlay. Starting at a new company in the middle of a pandemic can certainly present challenges, but so far, so good. It’s been great. Everyone’s been very supportive, as Michael mentioned, just allowing us to seamlessly integrate – from afar to start. And now that things are starting to open up we’re really excited and optimistic about what’s to come.
Michael: I love my home office space, my family and my two dogs, but I can’t wait to trade them in for going out to see properties. It’ll be good to get back on that track. I’m really looking forward to it.
Barb: I think we’re all looking forward to a little normalcy returning for everyone later in 2021.
At the intersection of data centers and investments
Barb: Mike, can you tell us about your role within Stream Realty Partners (SRP) and how exactly that ties into Stream Data Centers?
Mike: So Michael and I sit inside of the SRP investment team. SRP as you mentioned is the parent company of Stream Data Centers. Really in a practical sense, we sit at the intersection of data centers and investments. So what that means practically is we’re helping to further converge and kind of level up both of those businesses as we scale and grow in service of our clients. Sourcing data center opportunities. We’ll be building some differentiated products in that space. And then fast forward, I’m sure we’ll be doing something completely different in five or 10 years inside of the organization.
A wholly integrated platform – the ‘one-stop shop’ solution
Barb: Considering the experience you both bring to Stream from your past, what do you think is the benefit that will bring to Stream’s customers and investors?
Michael: That’s a great question. You know, the data center investment arena has changed quite dramatically since we’ve been involved with it. It’s been pretty dynamic and we’re seeing a lot of new capital coming into the space. And so the ability to interact with those types of investors, relate what we’re seeing on the data center side to other types of properties that may be more familiar, such as office and industrial, and also to display both the expertise here internally at Stream – not just from a market perspective, from a operational facility management, development, leasing, marketing, wholly integrated package – has been really useful for us as we’re talking to users and potential sellers and potential investors.
Barb: And Mike, how do you think this extends out – building off of what Michael was saying there – to the industry as a whole and the future of Stream? (Not to put pressure on the two of you to evolve the entire industry!)
Mike: We obviously don’t have a crystal ball, and if we do it’s probably not a very good one. But we think that over time, our ability to help our clients, help our partners – and we use partners as a very inclusive term; partners could be investors, partners can be our tenants in many cases – we want to help them grow their business and by doing that grow our business. And so as we look down the road to year five and year 10, where I think this is going is we’re going to build a franchise that people can think of really just as the solution. Where a user can come to Stream and whether they have a very specific need – maybe they need office space or they need an industrial solution, or they need a data center – we want to think of ourselves as a one stop shop (to use the often overplayed term). We want to be helpful where our customers and clients come to us for advice and partnership.
Users can come to Stream and whether they have a very specific need – maybe they need office space or they need an industrial solution, or they need a data center – we’re a one-stop shop.
– Mike Armstrong
Michael: That’s a good point. I think some users or tenants just want a landlord; they don’t want you in their business at all. Other tenants or users want a partner; they need someone to help them manage the infrastructure. Here at Stream, we’re able to do all of that. We can serve as more of a real estate partner, we can serve as more of an operational data center partner, and everything in between. So it’s a very exciting platform for us to be part of.
Stream 2026: Expanded footprint, more differentiated solutions
Barb: I heard you say you don’t have a crystal ball, but if you did, what do the next five years look like? If we’re sitting here talking five years from now, what do you think we’re talking about?
Mike: In concrete terms, I think we will have an expanded footprint. I would expect us to have more offices in California, on the West Coast, basically wherever our clients are and need help. I can see an expanded office footprint across the company. More differentiated investment solutions – that’s office, industrial, data center, and maybe some other product types as well. And just a growing, vibrant business. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael and I were doing something bigger or different inside the organization as we help it grow.
Michael: One of the advantages of working at a very tightly held private company is we’re able to be nimble, we’re able to be entrepreneurial. We can shift where we think the better opportunities are or as we see user needs change or evolve and similarly as investor demands and requirements change. So a lot of good things for us to come. The growth has been phenomenal the past few years, and Mike and I are very excited to be part of it going forward.
One of the advantages of working at a very tightly held private company is we’re able to be nimble, we’re able to be entrepreneurial. We’re able to evolve as our customers and investors evolve.
– Michael Wong
Barb: Well, we certainly look forward to seeing this all unfold and to meeting back here in person and seeing if your crystal ball is right. Michael Wong and Mike Armstrong, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your expertise with us here today. And thank you, viewers for tuning in. For more insightful content, please visit streamdatacenters.com and head to the resource library for all of your information needs.