'85, MBA '87
What do you do professionally?
I lead a team of twelve analysts who manage $8.5Bn in technology mutual fund assets and $800Mn in technology hedge fund assets.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Two things: Finding a compelling new idea, and seeing existing ideas generate exceptional performance for our clients. I have also been fortunate to meet many of the country’s most dynamic business leaders—people like Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, James Bagley, Hok Tan, John Chambers, Andy Bechtolsheim, Aart De Geus, and many others.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
On the mutual fund side, the trend towards low-fee passive investments is a tough obstacle. Retail investors have been lead to believe that passive is the way to go, and that actively managed funds don’t justify their fees. Unfortunately, there are many actively managed funds that are mediocre, and even strong performance relative to the indices (as we have delivered) often times can’t persuade investors not to redeem. In hedge funds, the challenge is that so many hedge funds charge high fees but deliver poor results. We are an exception to this trend, but the bad publicity endemic to hedge funds has made fund raising difficult in spite of our strong investment performance.
What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?
Aside from Technology conferences (Semicon West, E3 Videogame Conference, Comdex, CES, Flash Memory Summit etc.) in places like San Jose, San Francisco, New York, and Las Vegas, I do get to travel to some fun places to visit clients, including Zurich, Geneva, Paris, London, Dubai, Bahrain, and Monaco.
What is the best professional advice you’ve received?
In early 1995, my Seligman Communications & Information Fund was the #1 mutual fund in the country over 1 and 5 years. Not surprisingly, my phone was ringing off the hook, with lucrative offers to join other firms, including Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management. I ended up having breakfast with Ron Baron, of Baron Funds, and he encouraged me to stay at J&W Seligman as my own boss instead of working for someone else. I hired an attorney and hammered out a rewarding compensation agreement with Seligman, where I’ve stayed for many years, through the company’s acquisition by Ameriprise Financial in 2008. To a large degree, I’ve been my own boss since 1995, and I’ve had the opportunity to run my own successful hedge fund since 2001 from the ground up. I’ve always been grateful to Ron for his advice to stay at Seligman.
Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?
If I had the talent, I’d savor the chance to be a guitarist in a successful blues rock band.
What are you excited about right now?
I’m excited about the secular growth opportunities and reasonable valuations in U.S. Semiconductor stocks; I’m also excited about short opportunities in overvalued Internet, Biotech, and Medical Device companies, as well as helping unmask fraudulent Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Learning about science, international travel with my family, following public policy and politics through the Hoover Institution at Stanford (where I’m an Overseer), and playing golf whenever I have free time.
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?
Accounting, finance theory, and how to analyze a business.
Who was your favorite professor?
What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
J.B. Fuqua gave a speech to the school during my first year, with lots of memorable advice and anecdotes. I particularly recall him saying that “OPB” (other people’s brains) and “OPM” (other people’s money) were often critical to career success. His comments stuck in my brain, and later on I saw how relevant they were to the investment industry. Smart colleagues have played a huge role in my career success, and managing significant assets is key to amassing wealth in mutual funds and hedge funds.
J.B. also told the audience a story about how he had interviewed a promising MBA candidate who made the mistake of calling him “J.B.” instead of “Mr. Fuqua” at the end of their meeting; he ended up hiring another candidate instead. When I graduated from the Business School in 1987, J.B. Fuqua was there, on stage, shaking everyone’s hands after they got their diploma. When it was my turn to shake his hand, I couldn’t help myself, and blurted out “Thanks, J.B.” I certainly got a chuckle out of it, and I think I took him off guard!
Why do you support the Fuqua Annual Fund?
Fuqua was a key enabler of my career success; I’d like to help others afford a Fuqua education so they can realize their potential in our dynamic, capitalist system.
What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
I find that Fuqua grads look out for each other. There have been numerous instances in which Fuqua grads have passed on a business opportunity in money management to me, such as an Endowment with a Fuqua CIO.