Zayo snags Equinix exec Long to lead product charge

Zayo is nearing completion of upgrade work designed to deliver 400G capabilities across its 75,000-mile backbone network. Now, it is looking update its product strategy to match, bringing in former Equinix executive Bill Long as its new Chief Product Officer.

Long most recently spent nine years as SVP of product management at Equinix, overseeing the team responsible for its global colocation, interconnection and infrastructure services. Before that, he spent nearly a decade at Level 3 Communications, serving in various roles including Director of Emerging Opportunities and VP of Voice Services.

His appointment follows the departure of Zayo's former Chief Product and Technology Officer Brian Lillie, who assumed that post in April 2021 and left in May 2022.

Zayo Group President Andres Irlando in a statement touted Long’s “wealth of knowledge and experience overseeing product growth and profitability in the digital infrastructure space,” adding his “forward-thinking leadership will be an invaluable asset.”

The CPO appointment comes at a key moment for Zayo. The company is set to complete a 400G upgrade of its network backbone by the end of the year, having reached the halfway point back in May. It has also been expanding its subsea cable holdings, with the launch of a new route between the U.K. and the Netherlands in July. In June, it completed a deal to acquire Education Networks of America, which provides managed connectivity and network services to schools and other public sector customers.

It will be up to Long to take these assets and lead the company’s overall product strategy, financials and roadmap in the face of competition from the likes of Lumen Technologies, Windstream and others. A Zayo representative told Fierce he will be tasked with everything from maintaining its core infrastructure offerings including fiber and transport to overseeing new services offered through its SD-WAN and E-Rate businesses. He will also help develop future-facing cloud and edge solutions. 

The representative added Long is particularly interested in scaling the capabilities Zayo is building around network observability and automation, multi-cloud and edge-to-core-to-cloud.

“As more of global GDP becomes digitally enabled, the criticality of fiber and communications infrastructure connecting the edge to core to clouds is becoming increasingly important,” Long said in a statement. “Zayo's broad and deep geographic reach, along with its long-term commitment to network modernization and incredible team, have put the company in the ideal position to capitalize on this market opportunity.”

According to Vertical Systems Group, Zayo was already among the top ten companies with the most on-net fiber lit buildings and ranked number two for U.S. wavelength services as of the end of 2021. Zayo made it into the Challenger Tier in the firm’s mid-2022 survey of U.S. Carrier Ethernet providers, meaning it had between 1% and 4% share of the U.S. retail Ethernet market.