From DJ to DE-CIX

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During his university years, Ivo A. Ivanov was a radio DJ host. Now, two decades later, he is the CEO of DE-CIX International, the world’s leading Internet Exchange. How did this happen?

In this #NomadFuturist podcast Ivanov shares his fascinating journey with Phil and Nabeel.

Ivanov hails from Bulgaria where he began his law studies before moving to Germany. As a student in the early 90s, he worked as a radio station anchor/moderator hosting a prime-time weekend show that gave tips about the best parties and clubs for his audience.

This was Ivanov’s introduction to media which provided a natural segue into commercial law with a strong focus on media and telecommunications.

“Media was the initial spark and over time I went deeper into the specifics to telecommunications, infrastructure regulation, etc.”

After university, Ivanov ended up working in the legal department at DE-CIX and ultimately became the head of corporate legal. He found it exciting to be involved in the telco end of the business.

In 2006 DE-CIX made the decision to expand into the Eastern European market.

Ivanov, who spoke Russian, was invited to take part in the first trip to Moscow.

“We had a lot of discussions with Russian operators. We met in a Moscow pub at minus 30 degrees Centigrade outside with the drivers of the bosses waiting in front, their engines on for two-and-a-half hours!”

He describes the dynamic landscape of the early years of network interconnection in Eastern Europe.

As Ivanov got more deeply involved in the business aspects of the firm and learned about its operations, he fell in love with the data center interconnection business. Over the course of his career, he has visited over 275 data centers on four continents.

“The business is so interesting. it’s a universe of different individuals, of different business models… of services, products, ideas, creative approaches. You can never get bored with what the industry has to offer.”

Ivanov talks about the creativity involved in growing a business, about the need to maintain flexibility to enable different markets as well as to foster the relationships between people.

“The industry is made by people, not by robots!”

Now, more than ever, in the age of the pandemic, Ivanov stresses the importance of maintaining the ecosystem, maintaining the relationships between people, between families.

“This is my main motivation, to do this with a passion and with pleasure…providing the services, the infrastructure to make everyone’s life better!”

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Ivo A. Ivanov is Chief Operating Officer of the DE-CIX Group AG and Chief Executive Officer of DE-CIX International - responsible for the global business activities of the Internet Exchange Operator. Ivanov has more than 15 years of experience in the regulatory, legal, and commercial Internet environment. Ivanov joined DE-CIX in January 2007.

In recent years, Ivanov has been deeply involved in the establishment of DE-CIX sites in Istanbul, Palermo, Madrid, Marseille, New York, Dallas, Dubai (UAE-IX powered by DE-CIX) as well as Mumbai (Mumbai IX powered by DE-CIX), and several DE-CIX consultancy projects in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Ivanov has an educational background focused on Law and Business. Fluent in German, English, Russian, and Bulgarian, he graduated from a German business school in 1995 and holds two Law degrees from the Universities of Sofia (Bulgaria) and Bonn (Germany). After graduation, he worked as a lawyer, with a focus on e-commerce law, IP law, telecommunications law, and data protection law.

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