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Navigating Change and Unlocking Value: The Strategic Journey of Jack Hazan and IPv4.Global

The passage provided features an interview with Chad Silverstein and Jack Hazan, who is the Executive Vice President at Hilco Streambank. Hazan oversees the operations of Hilco’s IPv4.Global business division. Utilizing his extensive background in restructuring and business development, Jack offers innovative liquidity solutions to companies possessing diverse intangible assets. As the founder and head of IPv4.Global, he has successfully spearheaded the division to surpass $1 billion in sales.

Jack Hazan, Executive Vice President, Hilco Streambank/ IPv4.Global

Can you share a little about your background and what pivotal moments led you to your current position as an executive?

I have a legal background—I started my career as in-house general counsel at the retail electronics chain Nobody Beats the Wiz. The company unfortunately ran into hard times and entered bankruptcy, but the company’s misfortune turned out to be a door opener for me. As general counsel, I was deeply embedded in the entire bankruptcy process, and I learned a great deal as I participated in the transition of the company’s assets to the buyer, Cablevision. Following the sale and a brief stint for the transition, The Wiz’s liquidating trustees hired me to manage the wind-down of the estate, and then I ended up being a bankruptcy attorney at a prestigious NY law firm, Kramer Levin—this is how I accidentally became a bankruptcy lawyer.

The next pivotal moment for me was encountering my current business partner, Gabe Fried. He was selling intangible assets and getting into interesting situations with brands and patents in a bankruptcy case. I was in need of work, so I offered to use my contacts to help him sell those brands. I quickly found a buyer. We repeated this process a few times before we officially joined forces and became business partners.

The next important moment was our new company’s breakthrough case: Circuit City. The company had gone into bankruptcy and a very fast liquidation. We were hired to sell their brands and domain names. We also eventually sold a patent portfolio that they didn’t even know they had for millions of dollars. After that, we were the go-to resource for intangible assets for the liquidators.

They subsequently came back to us to see if we can help them sell blocks of IPv4 addresses that Circuit City had registered in its name. We researched and found that there was a precedent of another bankrupt company, Nortel, that sold IPv4 addresses to Microsoft in its bankuptcy for around $11 per address. Circuit City had two /16s (65,536 addresses each), which at $11 per address was worth close to $1.5M. We marketed and successfully sold the addresses on behalf of the estate. At the time we were also selling the intangibles out of the Borders Bookstores bankruptcy, and they too had a /16 that we sold. Apparently there was a business here, and we launched our IPv4 marketplace—IPv4.Global, and have since sold more than $1B worth of IP Addresses for both healthy and distressed organizations.

What were the early challenges you faced in your career, and how did they shape your approach to leadership?

One of the most significant challenges I faced was that, at the time I graduated, if you wanted to be a lawyer, the main career path was to be hired by a big law firm out of law school. However, when I graduated from law school in 1991, the market was a disaster. I graduated from a good school, and I landed my first job as in-house counsel at The Wiz through a family introduction. I learned a great deal in this position; right from the beginning we were working with a lot of law firms—and it was my responsibility to manage them. Some of them were very willing to help me, and some of the lawyers I worked with became mentors to me.

At The Wiz, I had touched almost every type of legal challenge, real estate, employment law, insurance, labor laws, trademarks, advertising, contracts and more. But, despite this broad experience, this was still not what a law firm was looking for in their associates. When I tried again to get a job at a prominent law firm, the feedback I received was that I wasn’t suitable for a law firm as I had never worked in one.

This experience has had a very profound effect on how I mentor younger employees. They are under so much pressure to have ‘the right’ career path and work for the ‘right’ companies. But what that looks like is different for everyone so there’s a whole generation that’s uncertain about the choices they are making.

I try to give everyone support, and practical advice for their own growth. I also tell them my story—and my unconventional career path. I share that I’ve been in a position more than once where I had no idea what to do next. I find that it energizes younger employees as there are different paths to success. I also invest time with them to help them figure out what is best for them. I had a young man that had worked for me for a few years, when the opportunity came for him to join his father’s company. He was conflicted as he enjoyed his work and wanted to stay working for me. To be honest, he was a great employee, so it would have been better for me and the company too if he had stayed; however, we took time to work through his options and to identify the path that was going to serve him better in the long term. He ended up leaving, and we stay in touch. In fact, I stay connected to many of my alumni and remain incredibly proud of all the people who have worked for me and the difference they make outside of my organization. I see them all as an extended family, that continues to leverage and share the business skills and ethical foundations that I helped instill in them.

We often learn the most from our mistakes. Can you share one that you made that turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?

I eventually did find my way into a law firm—Kramer Levin—and I was doing well. I was on a growth path with a track to make partner, but I couldn’t shake the thought that I should be heading out into the business world. So, I left the stability of Kramer Levin for a position where I was sure I’d have opportunities to get involved in deals and make money. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. In fact, the company ended up selling the business I worked for and no longer needed me. I had a wife, seven kids, massive tuition bills and a thousand other expenses and I no longer had a job. Why did I leave a stable job for an unstable opportunity? At the time, it was a huge mistake.

The valuable lesson this taught me was that you’re not always in control of decisions, but you are in control of your path forward. I learned that I can make things work when I need them to. I pivoted and figured out the next step quickly. I found myself networking at a business conference where I met my current business partner, Gabe. We had complementary skills, and we started to make things happen. Everything just snowballed from there and the rest is history.

As an executive, how do you define success, both personally and for your organization?

When I started the business with my partner Gabe, it was just the two of us. We have a group of 25—30 people now and it is really gratifying to see how far we’ve come. I believe that success is reflected in the achievements of others—many of the people we have worked with, mentored and watched grow have continued to be successful both inside the company and elsewhere.

It’s also meaningful to me that as an organization, we’ve been able to expand our reach over time. We started out just focused on bankrupt brands, now we have four groups: IPv4.Global—our IPv4 marketplace, the classic Hilco Streambank IP Advisory services, a patent consulting unit and Hilco Digital Assets with a focus on domain names, NFTs and other digital assets. When we started out, nobody knew what IPv4 addresses were worth as sales were complicated and private. Our innovation in starting to sell IPv4 addresses created a whole new market, and we’re leading the way by operating the industry’s only transparent marketplace. Success also means continuing to advance the market, through patience, persistence, and creativity.

What was a significant risk you took this year, and how did it turn out?

We made a significant investment in the development of a software tool designed to help customers better understand their IP address holdings. We introduced the tool, which is called ReView and it has been enormously popular—in fact, many consulting companies use it to create inventories that fuel productive discussions around network optimization.

Another big risk we took was purchasing a large IP portfolio out of a bankruptcy case—comprising many small blocks. This was a great opportunity at a good price, but the upfront outlay was large, and the return would be delayed as we’d have to sell the addresses over time. It has worked out well for us. We were able to package these blocks with larger blocks to make an enhanced and more accelerated return.

How has your company’s mission or purpose affected its overall success?

Our business model is based on transparency—that’s the North Star that guides our decisions. We built our IPv4.Global marketplace platform and business around the concept of demystifying the IPv4 market. We give our customers all the options available to them, so they have all the information to be able to select the option that works best for them. For example, often clients have a choice to sell their addresses over a long term for a higher return, or flip them to us for a lower immediate return. When presenting these options to a client, although one option may be more profitable for us—we give the clients all of the data for each option so they can choose what is best for them. Being completely open and transparent about the options builds trust and develops long-term relationships with our clients.

Could you list the top five things you’ve learned in 2023, with specific examples of how these lessons impacted your decisions or strategies?

1 . Improvements are Critical. A centerpoint of our business is our online marketplace platform. The foundation was built years ago—but it is constantly being improved and updated. During 2023, I learned how to get the most out of our developers to better manage these ongoing improvements to have a more agile, responsive platform. One of the features we introduced allows sellers to adjust their own pricing, so they are entirely in control of how much they make and how competitively priced their blocks are..

2 . Reputation Matters. Since our inception, we have always operated with absolute professionalism and transparency. Our business and brand are more respected than I had previously appreciated, and I’ve come to realize how much this approach has led our customers to respect our brand. We’ve built an unbelievable amount of trust and credibility, which has helped us grow to become the number one marketplace for buying and selling IPv4 addresses. We proudly achieved $1 billion in IPv4 address sales last year based on our reputation.

3 . You can’t do everything yourself. Last year was the year that I realized that I was putting too much on my own shoulders. The company started out as two guys with an idea, and if we wanted something to happen, we had to do it ourselves. It’s hard to let go of that mindset. The company has grown to the point where I can’t be involved in everything. I’ve hired a VP of sales and I’m giving my other direct reports more responsibility to go out and make strategic decisions so I can focus on the day-to-day operations and our long-term outlook.

4 . The importance of accountability and ownership. This concept goes hand in hand with empowering my team. When everybody thinks that somebody else is handling something—that’s when balls get dropped. I’ve learned that every process needs a clear owner—someone who can shepherd it through. Doing the work upfront to make sure there’s clarity around responsibilities has accelerated our ability to complete projects. When it comes to working with IT experts, share your vision and have them put it in their own terms to make the technology work. Don’t assume that everyone grasps the end goal.

5 . I need to create space for myself and family. As someone with non-stop work inclinations, this tendency is only encouraged when my colleagues schedule meetings for me. I’ve often ended up with back-to-back meetings, which doesn’t give me a lot of time to get any work done. I’m a dealmaker—and I can’t close any deals in internal meetings. I’ve found that I need to schedule time to think and work. And I need to set time aside to spend with my family. I know that people talk about quality time, but quantity is important, too. You need to be around and present for your family, friends, and community. I must admit that this is still work in progress—but I am starting to focus more on disconnecting from work and focusing on family more often.

How have these top five lessons from 2023 changed your outlook or approach for 2024?

I’m extremely positive about 2024; I see a lot of opportunity. These five lessons are a contributing factor. For example, now that we’ve understood that our customers respect how we operate, we’re looking to expand into new ways of supporting them with complementary services. We’re putting plans in place for additional financing opportunities and more consulting/professional services to help them navigate our complex industry.

Our ability to expand won’t be slowed down by my involvement in every project. Our team has grown significantly, and everyone is now empowered to do what they need to do to grow the business. I think this shift is going to be the equivalent of jet fuel in terms of how fast we will be able to achieve more.

In terms of innovation and adaptation, what’s one change you implemented in 2023 or plan to do in 2024 that you believe will be crucial for the future of your business?

We started providing a more rounded offering to customers in 2023. The first step was to introduce a unique IP address audit tool. It’s no small feat for organizations to perform a detailed inventory of all their IP address holdings—if you don’t know what you’ve got, you can’t manage or optimize it. We financed the development of a tool that allows network operators and administrators to gain visibility quickly and easily over all their IP address allocations, and we offer this to them for free. This was really a statement to the market that our expertise extends beyond just buying and selling IPv4 addresses—we understand our customers’ networks and we deliver the data they need to maximize their efficiency.

We also started to offer customers financial support to give them options with transactions. For example, a small university had unused addresses to sell, but as these were spread across many different blocks—they needed to be consolidated and renumbered—a time consuming and costly task. IPv4.Global advanced the purchase price to give the college the time and financial resources it needed to complete this process and we actually gave them a new clear block of IP addresses upfront to help them renumber. As a result, the university was able to get higher pricing for its large block of addresses, and did not have to outlay any funds to achieve that. This is a model that we are uniquely capable of providing based on our combination of expertise and financial resources, and we are continuing to provide this model to numerous clients.

As a leader, how do you foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within your team or organization?

We encourage and incentivize continuous learning and personal growth for all of our team members.

Recently, RIPE NCC, the IP Address registry in Europe, offered a certification program through the RIPE NCC Academy. Completion of the course will give our team a much better understanding of the intricacies of the RIPE database, which will enable them to better serve our clients. We offered a cash bonus to anyone who completed this certification and had several people complete the course.

We also have many people who work for us while concurrently pursuing higher education studies, advanced degrees or law school and we ensure that their schedules are flexible enough to accommodate. Some stay when they have graduated, others move on. I’m just as happy when someone has made an impact and then moves on to new horizons. We have former employees working at the largest law firms in the county and some working for our largest clients. We are proud of our Hilco Streambank alumni.

Looking at the broader industry landscape, what emerging trends do you think will be most influential in the coming year?

In our industry, our customers buy IPv4 addresses when they have infrastructure projects to deliver. One major change that is going to have an effect is the new pricing model currently being rolled out by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Starting this month, February 2024, AWS will charge $0.005 per hour per address for every IP address they allocate to customers, regardless of whether it is being used. This works out at just over $40 per address per year. Considering the current cost of purchasing IP Addresses—we’re likely to see quite a lot of marketplace activity this year.

On the selling side, many of our customers who want to unlock funds from unused IPv4 addresses are educational institutions. Unfortunately, I think we’re going to see many more of these colleges and universities suffering financial hardships—as enrollment numbers remain low post-pandemic.

If you and I were having a conversation one year from now, and we were looking back at the past 12 months, what specifically has to happen for you to be happy with your progress?

I’d really love to see the launch of at least one or two new business lines this year that expand and diversify the services we offer customers and provide them with more comprehensive support that includes professional services.

How can our readers further follow your work or your company online?

We have a great resource of blogs on our website that map out the industry, the dynamic pricing of IPv4 addresses and some great customer case studies: https://ipv4.global/blog/

You can also keep up with our news and updates on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ipv4.global/

By IPv4.Global, Premier IPv4 Broker and Online Marketplace

IPv4.Global by Hilco Streambank helps companies with IPv4 addresses to sell, find companies who need to buy IPv4 addresses. Our business is founded on the belief that the transaction that yields mutual satisfaction is worth pursuing. We customize solutions that work for both buyers and sellers and help evaluate options for acquiring the IP addresses you need, given your Regional Internet Registry requirements.

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