Billy Joe 'Red' McCombs Biography - McCombs School of Business - The University of Texas at Austin - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Billy Joe 'Red' McCombs Biography - McCombs School of Business - The University of Texas at Austin

Billy Joe "Red" McCombs' Life
and Business Interests

Billy Joe "Red" McCombs was born in 1927 in the small West Texas town of Spur, about 75 miles east of Lubbock. McCombs' father was an auto mechanic, but the younger McCombs expressed little interest in automobiles, though that market would eventually become his entrance to the world of big business, fame and fortune.

The oldest of four children, his family moved in 1943 to Corpus Christi, Texas. He briefly attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas where he played football (lineman and receiver) before serving in the Army in 1946 and 1947. After completing his Army stint, McCombs enrolled at The University of Texas, attending the business school and law school.

While visiting a friend in Corpus Christi, he was convinced to try selling cars. He was immediately successful and had his first dealership at age 25. Four years later, McCombs became the youngest Edsel dealer in the United States and his franchise was one of the few nationally to show a profit from the ill-fated Ford product. At one time he owned the sixth-largest auto conglomerate in the U.S., comprising more than 50 dealerships.

In 1958, he and wife Charline moved to San Antonio where he partnered with Austin Hemphill in a Ford dealership from which McCombs would begin an automobile empire built on McCombs' strong business acumen as well as his honesty, integrity and charm as a salesman. A self-described "Bubba," McCombs took sole ownership of the dealership and went on to start more than 50 nationwide.

Red McCombs Automotive Group now consists of five dealerships in San Antonio. McCombs was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame with its Distinguished Service Citation, the most prestigious award given in the automobile industry.

McCombs and an associate, Lowry Mays, formed Clear Channel Communications in 1972. Clear Channel Communications, Inc., is a global leader in the out-of-home advertising industry with radio and television stations and outdoor displays in 65 countries around the world. The company began its operations in 1972, and became a publicly traded company in 1984. Including announced transactions, Clear Channel operates more than 1,200 radio and 41 television stations in the United States and has equity interests in more than 240 radio stations internationally. Clear Channel also operates more than 8 81,000 outdoor advertising displays in more than 60 countries across 6 continents.

Koontz McCombs is a San Antonio-based land and real estate development company. The company is a respected leader in commercial real estate and has developed a portfolio of top quality projects in selected markets through acquisitions and development. The company has been involved in the development and/or acquisition of more than 1,600,000 square feet of commercial property.

McCombs has been active in the exploration of oil and gas for more than 30 years. His current venture, McCombs Energy, presently pursues both onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and production from New Mexico to Florida. The company actively reviews many exploration ideas and prospects generated by independent geologists and other companies, and also invests directly as a working interest owner with other companies that operate.

McCombs has also had a longtime interest in the sports industry. At age 25, he purchased his first professional sports team, the Corpus Christi Texas Clippers in the Big State Baseball League. McCombs then purchased two NBA teams, the San Antonio Spurs in 1972 and the Denver Nuggets in 1985. in 1998, McCombs purchased his first NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings. During the 1999 to 2000 season, the first year under Red's management, the Vikings went on to a 15-1 season, going to the NFC Championship for the first time in 11 years. McCombs received the Owner of the Year Award from FOX's Terry Bradshaw and the Executive of the Year Award from Pro Football Weekly. He sold the team in 2005. P

In addition, McCombs has been involved in various insurance companies as well as ranching ventures. He even made a new breed of cattle, the Gelorn, a cross between Longhorns and German Gelbreith.

For information on specific programs at the McCombs School, consult our contacts page. For media information, contact the Communications Director by phone at 512-471-3314 or by email at CommunicationsDirector@mccombs.utexas.edu.


Geron's Stem Cell Patents Revoked - Seeking Alpha - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Geron's Stem Cell Patents Revoked - Seeking Alpha

The U.S. Patent Office has disavowed the stem cell patents held by the University of Wisconsin and Geron Corporation (GERN). The patent office ruled that the three patents covered cells that were either obvious or variations of earlier patented cells.

The patents covered work done by James A. Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, and it was supported by Geron, so the two entities owned the patents jointly. Thomson first isolated stem cells in 1998.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which holds the patents, has the right to re-present its claims with the hope of re-instating the patents. If it fails, it can appeal, but the burden of proof has now shifted back on them to prove their case. The entire process could take years.

Because of the importance of stem cells, WARF gave licenses to individual researchers without charge and sold them stem cells for a nominal $500. For companies wishing to do research, the charge varied from $75,000 to $400,000. Invitrogen (IVGN) said it moved its stem cell research off-shore to avoid the patents, which are valid only in America.

Geron holds exclusive rights to heart, nerve and pancreatic cells that are derived from human embryonic stem cells.

Disclosure: none.

Searching for 40,000% Returns - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Searching for 40,000% Returns

Searching for 40,000% Returns

By John Reeves April 5, 2007

30 Recommendations

I have a confession to make: I am not a wealthy man. Now, this information might be worrisome to some of you, since I work for a company that provides advice on how to maximize personal wealth. I do, however, have a good explanation for my relatively modest financial situation.

I spent most of my 20s without an income, languishing away in grad school. During my 30s, I earned a pittance teaching history to college students. Only recently did I leave academia for the private sector, motivated by such grandiose dreams as being able to afford my own home and send my kids to college. All things considered, I have only one major regret over the past 20 years or so: I didn't invest early enough in the great companies of our generation. Where was the Motley Fool Rule Breakers service when I was 21?

What's past is prologue
During the past 20 years, the American economy has experienced phenomenal growth, fueled by a technological revolution that has transformed the way we work, shop, and communicate.

From 1984 to 2003, GDP grew by 77%, and manufacturing productivity expanded by more than 100%. To see how far we've come, just have a look at an old Star Trek episode. What was supposed to look futuristic back in the 1960s now looks utterly ridiculous. My underpowered laptop appears far more useful than anything Captain Kirk had at his disposal to navigate the USS Enterprise.

In the 1990s, as video gaming began establishing its foothold in American culture, game developers such as Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) capitalized on the profit opportunities. Dell revolutionized the way personal computers are created and delivered. Dynamic companies such as Gap (NYSE: GPS) responded to new economic trends and began selling familiar products in more profitable ways. Retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) effectively responded to fashion demands from their target demographics. Info tech firms like QLogic (Nasdaq: QLGC) and Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) emerged with improved methods for network management and Internet software.

All of the companies mentioned above broke the rules when they first appeared on the scene. Indeed, David Gardner, lead analyst for Rule Breakers, started touting a few of these companies from the early 1990s onward. Now, of course, long after the fact, conventional wisdom recognizes the genius of these companies.

So imagine what would have happened if I had plunked down $1,000 on each of these outstanding firms early on in their high-growth stages.



Start Date

Value in 2007

Total Return

Abercrombie & Fitch










Electronic Arts




















What's interesting is that since this article first ran, Dell has been pummeled by the market. Even after declining from a 40,000% return, it's still up 23,260% for early investors! A paltry $1,000 investment in Dell back in 1988 would have yielded $233,600 today. With that kind of performance, I suspect I'd now be in a position to purchase my own home, which would be preferable to the house I'm currently renting.

Wait just a minute
Now, some of you might object. Surely, it is not very likely that an investor would have been able to get in on the ground floor of all of these great companies. Perhaps you are right. Let's see what would happen if we had delayed our investments in three of the above companies by two years, which might have given us more time to monitor these high-growth businesses.


Initial Investment

Start Date

Value in '07

Total Return






Electronic Arts










Although hypothetical returns would have declined considerably by waiting (not that I'd complain about those returns), we see that great companies are still available at reasonable valuations early in their growth stages.

Money for nothing
You might be thinking: I like those returns; how do I get some of those? OK, now for some reality. The purpose of looking at the returns of the great companies listed above is not to show that growth investing is an all-win situation. Far from it. The purpose of the illustration is to demonstrate how well great companies perform over a long period. If you can identify just one great company early, and then hold on for the long term, you can do pretty well for yourself.

Growth investing is highly volatile and will fray the nerves of individuals with a low risk tolerance. That said, all investors should devote a portion of their portfolios to growth stocks. For those traveling in the fast lane, an allocation of 30% of their portfolios might make sense. More conservative types should allocate at least 5% to provide a little juice for their investments. I'm somewhere in between, so I devote about 15% of my portfolio to growth.

Willie Sutton and investing
Should I concentrate all of my growth allocation on computer and Internet stocks? No doubt, there are still great opportunities in these areas. In fact, there's a Rule Breakers selection I like that uses the Internet in an entirely creative way to deliver one of the most timeless products out there. But we also need to find new areas to trawl for great companies.

You might recall the familiar story about Willie Sutton. When asked why he robbed banks, old Willie replied, "Because that's where the money is." With Willie's advice in mind, the Rule Breakers service focuses on those sectors where the next great companies are likely to emerge -- biotechnology and nanotechnology, for instance.

The high-growth train of the 1990s has already left the station, and some of us were left behind, muttering obscenities to ourselves on the platform. We have two choices facing us today. One option is to lament our bad fortune, admit that high-growth stocks demand too much hard work and more than a bit of luck, and then resign ourselves to index funds, hoping to eke out 7% per year over the next 20 years. The other option demands boldness and vision. It asks you to forget the past and plan for the future by joining in the search for the great companies of the next 20 years.

The novelist George Eliot once said that "it is never too late to become what you might have been." That quote inspires me to seek those investments in the future that I didn't in the past. If you think our dedicated Rule Breakers team can help you in a similar quest, why not start up a risk-free trial for 30 days?

This article was originally published on Feb. 2, 2005. It has been updated.

John Reeves does not own any companies mentioned in this article. Gap, Dell, and Electronic Arts are Stock Advisor recommendations. Gap, Dell, and Symantec are Inside Value picks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

UL Lafayette: Intellectual Property: Patentability Searching - Sent Using Google Toolbar

UL Lafayette: Intellectual Property: Patentability Searching

Patentability Searching
By Howard M. Eisenberg © 2000
Download a PDF version of this document.
Abstract - In most instances, it is advisable to conduct a thorough patentability search before incurring the expense in time and money to draft and file a patent application. The patentability search provides useful information to help determine whether or not to file a patent application and how best to write the application. Much of the initial searching can be done by the inventor but usually it is best to have a search performed by a professional searcher.

In order for an invention to be patentable, it must be novel(1) and unobvious(2) as to anything that has been described in a written publication more than one year before the date that a patent application is filed claiming the invention. A patentability search, also referred to as a prior art search, is a search of published literature for the purpose of determining if an invention is likely to be found by a Patent Office examiner to be novel and unobvious. Although it is not a requirement to perform a patentability search before filing a patent application, there are several reasons why it is generally advisable to do so.

One very important reason to do a patentability search is that you might find a "knockout" piece of prior art. If the invention, or an obvious variant of it, was previously described, you will avoid wasting additional time and money in further developing or trying to patent the invention.

Aside from the determination whether the invention has or has not been described before, there are other reasons to do a prior art search. A search will help the inventor, and the patent attorney, to more fully understand the field of the invention, which will be useful when drafting the application. Awareness of the prior art helps the attorney broaden the description of the invention to the fullest extent possible. What I often tell my clients is that we try to have our invention snuggle up right next to the prior art without actually touching it. In this way, we attempt to build a protective wall around the claimed invention to make it more difficult for our competitors to design around our patent and to make a competitive product that does not infringe our patent.

Knowledge of the prior art also permits a patent attorney to provide a narrowing description of the invention if needed to distinguish over the prior art. For example, let's say that a researcher has developed a new cosmetic that is spread onto the skin of a user's face. The new cosmetic is nicely spreadable on the skin. The prior art found by the patent examiner during prosecution describes a similar, although not identical, cosmetic formulation. The prior art further discloses that a surfactant is present to enhance spreadability of the cosmetic on the skin. The new cosmetic invention is made without a surfactant. The examiner rejects the application based on this prior art.

If the patent attorney had been aware of the importance of the surfactant as described in the prior art, the specification could have been written to state that the cosmetic formulation preferably does not contain a surfactant. Then, the claims could be amended to overcome the rejection by inserting the feature that the formulation is substantially free of surfactant. Without this disclosure in the specification, however, the claims cannot be amended in this way and the rejection on this basis would stand, or would have to be overcome in some other manner. This unfortunate result could have been prevented by a prior art search conducted before drafting the application.

A prior art search will often result in a stronger patent. Prior art references that are brought to the attention of the Examiner during prosecution of an application are listed on the cover sheet of a patent. The burden on a future litigant to invalidate a patent on the basis of information contained in the listed references is very high. This is because the issued patent carries a legal presumption of validity in view of the prior art examined during the application process.

Another reason to do a prior art search is that often the search will reveal new uses or new markets that the inventor did not consider for the invention.

Much of the patentability search can be done by the inventor. University or corporate researchers often are familiar with research that is being done by competitors. Articles published by competitor colleagues can be searched in libraries or on electronic databases, such as Medline. Guides to periodicals, such as Index Medicus or the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature provide access to non-patent literature. Issued U.S. patents can be searched by name of inventor, assignee, or by keyword at the web site of the U.S. Patent Office(3) or at the IBM web site(4). European, PCT, and Japanese patent publications are more difficult to find but a limited search can be performed at the European Patent Office web site(5).

Issued U.S. patents may also be searched at the U.S. Patent Office or at a patent depository library. The location of these libraries is listed on the U.S. Patent Office web site. The mechanics of searching at the Patent Office or at a depository library are too complex to detail in this article. However, these searches are relatively easy to perform with the assistance of a helpful librarian.

Most often, it is advisable to enlist the aid of a professional patent searcher to perform the prior art search. Patent search firms may be found in the yellow pages of the telephone directory or by searching with an internet search engine. The cost of a patentability search will vary depending on the complexity and field of the invention. The cost for a search for a simple mechanical invention may be as little as $200 to $400. For a complex invention involving chemistry or biotechnology, the cost may be $1000 or higher.

Because a search firm has an obligation of confidentiality, it is advised to provide as much information as possible about the invention to enable the searcher to do an accurate and complete search. Summarize the invention in one or two sentences, then more fully describe the invention in a few paragraphs. Speak to the searcher and ask what information he or she would like you to provide. Provide drawings if needed to understand the invention.

The search report should be analyzed to determine what the art is that relates to the field of your invention, if there is analogous prior art in a different field, and what the similarities and differences are between the prior art and the invention. The prior art should also be examined for any disclosure that would lead one to believe that your invention would not work or that would lead the reader towards the same conclusions that you had that led you to develop your invention.

I suggest that both the inventor and a patent attorney should analyze the prior art search report. The analysis of a prior art search report is often a complex matter involving complex legal principles. Because a patent attorney is unbiased towards the invention and is more knowledgeable concerning the legal issues concerning patentability, the opinion of a patent attorney should be sought.

It is important to keep in mind the limitations of a patentability search. No prior art search should ever be considered to be definitive. Computerized patent searches usually only contain the last 25 years of issued patents. Obscure articles, especially foreign articles, may not be uncovered during a search. Pending United States applications filed before November 2000 and not filed in any foreign countries, are not published until they issue as patents. Foreign patent applications are not published until 18 months after filing. Therefore, it is possible that these documents exist but it is often impossible to learn of their existence until after you've already filed a patent application. Also, unpublished prior art, such as the prior sale or use of an invention, may be impossible to find.

Even with these limitations, it is suggested to perform a prior art search before the decision to patent is made, and at least before drafting the application. Only if a researcher is intimately familiar with all of the ongoing research in the field of the invention should the decision be made not to perform a prior art search. Even in these situations, it is still a good idea to perform a search of the applicable patent and scientific literature.


Asymmetrical Information: - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Asymmetrical Information:

Scott Adams has an interesting post on success:

If you want an average successful life, it doesn't take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don't recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I'm hardly an artist. And I'm not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I'm funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It's the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it. . . . Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more "pretty goods" until no one else has your mix.

At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That's one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that's the thing you'll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.

It sounds like generic advice, but you'd be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn't have about three skills in the top 25%.

What are your three?

Obviously, I'm not an economist. And I don't think that Jonathan Franzen, or even Malcolm Gladwell, are looking over their shoulders, worrying that my deft prose styling might knock them off their perch. As far as I can tell, this is a complete list of all my talents:

1) I read fast
2) I write better than perhaps 90% of my countrymen.
3) I understand a modicum of economics
4) I have lovely handwriting, and know how to write a good thank-you note
5) I can produce dinner for eight with two hour's lead time
6) I can imitate Neil Young and Christian Slater

Yet I have parlayed these limited talents into a blogging/journalistic career lucrative enough to keep the wolf away from the door. Like Scott Adams and the script producer he talks about at the beginning of the post, I did so randomly, by stumbling upon something that very few people were doing at all, much less well, and tricking media companies into paying me for it. If the management consulting firm for which I was supposed to have worked hadn't blown up rather spectacularly in 2001, there would be no blog, or journalism career. Funny how things work out.

Update Sorry, bad taste alert. "Blown up" is the fairly common term for companies that undergo severe financial crises. No lives were lost in the process.