Mining cryptocurrency has turned into big business, with Fortune reporting it may now be the most profitable industry in the world – surpassing traditional leaders such as Big Pharma and software providers.
Thanks to Russel Bruno and Ace Host, the Tampa Bay area can boast a leader in the rapidly growing industry.
Bruno is the CEO of Ace Host, a Tampa-based data center provider. Ace Host operates both a traditional data center with the added capacity of crypto mining, along with an autonomous facility completely dedicated to mining. A data center houses computing hardware and equipment needed to connect to networks. At their core, data centers provide organizations with three basic things needed to satisfy their computing needs: power, connectivity and cooling.
“We’ve been in mining for going on eight years now,” said Bruno. “We’ve been doing this a long time and understand the crypto space and the mining space really well.”
Data centers are also mission-critical facilities – they are expected to remain secure and operational at all times, even during an event that would otherwise cause widespread disruption. No tolerance for downtime means multiple power sources and connections to broader network infrastructure are critical, and Ace Host guarantees a 99.9% uptime.
These distinct characteristics also make data centers uniquely suited for crypto mining.
“I can get them (miners) up and running immediately,” states Bruno. “That’s how it translates to anyone.
“Everyone’s obsessed with mining. Everyone is looking to make money.”
In addition to self-mining, Bruno uses his facilities to host mining operations for other corporations and individuals. Prospective customers can fill out a small form online and receive a free quote for colocation services, depending on what equipment is needed and what coin they intend to mine.
Colocation data centers allow miners to get their machines online right away with few upfront costs. In addition to the critical infrastructure redundancies and security measures, Ace Host’s autonomous downtown Tampa facility is also rated to withstand a Category 4 hurricane.
As mainstream adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency becomes more prevalent, the business has increased dramatically.
“Just this past month, I’ve had 400 leads come in for mining; I mean, it’s absurd,” said Bruno. “We’re going to be out of our power at one facility.”
Power is the lifeblood of mining operations, and Bruno is always on the lookout for more. Bruno relayed that he is part of a group that has recently signed a letter of intent to purchase an old power plant in Auburndale. He said he is looking for partners and speaking with municipalities to put up machines and take over places that have extra space.
“We are true miners, but I’m a true technologist first,” states Bruno. “I believe in the industry, and I believe where this is headed.”
Bruno, who years ago got his start in mining by setting up operations for a company in Iceland, calls himself a pioneer in the space. He believes news on the burgeoning industry has been slow to reach the masses due to the close-knit nature of the mining community, and because people have been self-mining for so long. He is now encouraging others in the industry to share the wealth, especially in the Tampa Bay area.
“I’m here, I’ve done very, very well with it, and I believe in Tampa,” he said.
Bruno has been in the area since 1994 and played baseball for the University of Tampa. He is on the alumni board and has used his expertise in mining and Bitcoin to find creative ways of raising money for the program.
In addition to running two major facilities in Tampa, Bruno and his team also manage facilities for two of the largest mining corporations in the country. Bruno said he has managed about 8,000 miners “out west” for almost three years. Automation software does most of the work, and a team of technicians makes sure the software is continuously operating.
“At the end of the day, there just isn’t a lot of people that do what we do at this scale,” states Bruno.
Bruno said he put about $2 million and 3.5 megawatts of power into his facilities in downtown Tampa. The old power plant in Auburndale can produce up to 300 megawatts, but will take around a year to get back online. Bruno has a team of scouts scouring the country for power, and they recently secured eight megawatts from Indiana.
However, Bruno makes it clear that he wants to keep his operations in Florida and as close to the Tampa Bay area as possible. He has recently met with the Florida Power Commissioners Association and is in discussions with Lakeland Electric to take over some of its buildings.
Many of these old facilities and municipalities have excess power but nothing to use it on, and the people running them lack the know-how to repurpose them to mining operations. Mining operations that can potentially bring a city an immense amount of extra funding.
“We’re really down the road with a lot of different groups to see where we can take on places that have extra power,” said Bruno. “We just cut a deal with a location that has five megawatts of power – just sitting there.”
Bruno relays that he would love to move back into the St. Pete area – all he needs is the space and power. He encourages local officials to reach out to him or other miners, to see what they need and how the operations can profit the city.
Bruno once operated a 90,000 square-foot facility in the Gandy area and bought the domain name “Silicon Gandy.” Bruno said he finds it funny that years later, people are now comparing the region to a young Silicon Valley due to its emergence as a leader in the financial technology industry.
“I’m not surprised by it,” he adds. “We need more companies that are going to embrace the Tampa Bay area.
“The economy is great, and it’s still affordable. It’s a great place to live.”