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Maxon Lecturer Says Luck Played a Part in His Success

Hossein Fateh

Hossein Fateh

When Hossein Fateh came to GWSB in the 1980s, he didn’t even have a green card. But a series of good decisions, and some good luck, brought him to where he is today:  CEO, co-founder, president and director of DuPont Fabros Technology, Inc.

Fateh, who delivered the 14th Annual Robert P. Maxon Lecture on April 16, traced the story of Dupont Fabros, a Washington, D.C-based real estate investment trust (REIT) and leading owner, developer, operator and manager of wholesale data centers, from its early days to its hugely successful initial public offering (IPO).

“My story has a lot of luck that goes with it,” said Fateh, addressing an audience at GW’s Jack Morton auditorium on the Foggy Bottom campus.

Fateh, who earned a BBA at GWSB in 1990 and an MSF in 1997, successfully led the company through its IPO in 2007, resulting in net proceeds of approximately $678 million.

“I was very lucky over a period of time,” said Fateh. “I was lucky enough to make the right decisions over a long career.”

For instance, early in his career, Fateh recalled losing a job when the company he was working for went bankrupt. Because he didn’t yet have a green card – he has since become a U.S. citizen – he couldn’t find other work, so he threw his lot in with his former employer, who subsequently made a successful investment.

The money generated from that, plus Fateh’s realization that “connectivity was going to be a very large part of the Internet” led to the start of Dupont Fabros.

From there, Fateh started buying up shells of buildings that had been vacated by failed companies.

“These companies were all going out of business and leaving behind millions of dollars in infrastructure,” he said.  He lowered rents to lure new tenants.

Another time, Fateh was running out of money and time bidding against hedge funds and others at a real estate auction in New York City that went on for some 40 hours.

“I thought I had lost a million of my and my partners’ money,” he said. “I was very upset.”

But at the behest of a lawyer on the scene, Fateh and another bidder teamed up. The result:  they ended up with real estate worth $53 million that sold, a year later, for nearly double.

“We realized this was a real business we could succeed in,” he said. When Dupont Fabros went as far as it could as a private entity, Fateh decided to go public – another well-timed decision.

“It’s a good thing we did go public,” Fateh said, because four of his lenders ended up going bankrupt, making the cash raised by the IPO more critical.

The Maxon lectureship was established through Dorothy Maxon’s endowment gift to GWSB in honor of her husband, Robert P. Maxon, BA, ’48. Maxon served his country in WWII and went on to hold several executive positions for Mobil, retiring as general manager of worldwide corporate public relations.

The annual lecture features prominent executives and academics making presentations on contemporary global management issues.

Posted by gwsb on April 23, 2013 | Filed under: GWSB News.


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