In great company

Houston financial powerhouse among 6 tycoons inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame

Houstonian Gerald Smith (pictured with wife Anita Webber Smith) is now a Texas biz hall of famer. Photo courtesy of © Alexander's Fine Portrait Design

A local business powerhouse has been recognized for his years or work and success. Houston investment manager Gerald Smith, chairman and CEO of Smith Graham & Co., an investment management firm, can now call himself a Hall of Famer.

Recently, Smith was one of six Texas businessmen inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. He and the five other inductees were honored during a dinner at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

More on this local tycoon from his Hall of Fame bio: He's also a board member of New York Life Insurance and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and chairman of the Texas Southern University Foundation. A graduate of Texas Southern University with a BBA in Finance, in 2012, Mr. Smith received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, where he has established the Gerald B. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to help young people of color better compete in today's business environment.

The sole person of color on this year's list, Smith has received numerous awards for his entrepreneurial achievements and community service. Recently, the City of Houston proclaimed Gerald B. Smith and Anita Webber Smith Day for their community and philanthropic giving. He and Anita, have three sons — Marcus, Jackson and Jordan, and one daughter — Joy.

Aside from Smith, this year's inductees into the Texas Business Hall of Fame are:

  • Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban. He is owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks as well as chairman and CEO of AXS TV and one of the investors on ABC's Shark Tank.
  • Austin billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who built his fortune through Paul Mitchell hair care products and high-end tequila. Forbesestimated John Paul Mitchell's 2019 sales at roughly $900 million. In 1989, DeJoria co-founded Patrón, the first ultra-premium tequila. Patrón, now the world's No. 1 ultra-premium tequila, was sold to Bacardi in 2018 for $5.1 billion.
  • Fort Worth private investor John Goff. He was co-founder, vice chairman, and CEO of Crescent Real Estate, which Morgan Stanley bought in 2007 for $6.5 billion. Two years later, he bought back the company in partnership with Barclays Capital. Today, Goff is chairman of Crescent Real Estate as well as Houston-based Contango Oil & Gas. He owns The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dallas and Fort Worth-based spa company Canyon Ranch
  • Dallas private investor Morton Meyerson. Most notably, he is former chairman and CEO of Plano-based EDS and former chief technology officer at GM.
  • Dallas executive Randall Stephenson. He is former chairman and CEO of Dallas-based tech, media, and telecom giant AT&T.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houstonian Joe Schurman's latest venture PhenomAInon is aimed at tapping into AI and data analytics for for space domain awareness and threat detection. Photo via Getty Images

As artificial intelligence continues to expand its sphere of influence, Spring-based expert Joe Schurman is looking to take this technology to an out-of-this-world space.

With his background includes working with advising defense and aerospace organizations like NASA, Schurman's latest venture PhenomAInon is perfectly aligned with what he’s been working towards since 2019. The company aims to be a multi-tiered subscription service and application that will be the world’s first cloud native data and AI platform for phenomenon-based data analysis that can analyze data from any source for space domain awareness and threat detection, according to Schurman.

The platform aims to provide end-to-end data and AI analysis, publish insights, build community, and provide cloud, data, and software consulting. PhenomAInon deploys data and AI services alongside modern data and AI engineering, per the website, to surface insights to explorers, researchers, organizations, publications, and communities through advanced data and AI analysis. Schurman has worked with the U.S. government's task force for unidentified anomalous phenomenon — any perceived aerial phenomenon that cannot be immediately identified or explained — known as UAPTF. The tool will run sensitive information and then get back custom video analysis. The public version of the tool will give the public the option to view videos and cases, and form their own analysis.

“We are working together with multiple teams both public and private to continue to curate the data sets, clear documents for public review, and provide advanced analytics and AI capabilities never seen before to the public,” Schurman tells InnovationMap. “From a data and analytics perspective, we are applying machine learning and advanced analytics to find correlations and anomalies in the incident reports across multiple data sets.

"Some of these are public, some are private, and some we are clearing for public review," he continues. "The analytics will go far beyond incident reporting and showcase heat maps, correlative incident maps to key private and public sector facilities, and trends analysis never reported — e.g. incident reporting correlated with time, weather, FAA, and drone flight data, etc. We also have a new content analysis platform where users will be able to eventually run their own AI and ML analysis on their own videos.”

Schurman was first able to show this to the world in 2019, when as an adviser for To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science, or TTSA. He also appeared on History Channel’s “Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation” to show the Pentagon’s former Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program head and TTSA Director of Special Programs Luis Elizondo how the AI platform could be helpful in tracking data related to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

Now, PhenomAInon's app is a work-in-progress. While it soft launched in May of 2022, Schurman says they have several data sets that are awaiting clearing from the U.S. government, as well as the content analysis tool in development to launch possibly by the summer. Schurman also hopes they will curate the largest library of incident videos, images, and audio recordings.

The subject of UAP continues to attract new discussions from government officials and industry professions across aerospace, academia, and more. In Houston, Rice University's Woodson Research Center and its humanities department host one of the largest archives of UAP and paranormal data, notes, and research that include documents from CIA programs on remote viewing.

Schurman says he's looking to provide even more data and information in this space.

“This phenomenon, it’s implications to multiple aspects of our lives and possible security threats, all come down to a data problem and the organizations that have been in place to-date just have not had the level of cloud, data and AI engineering capabilities we take for granted and have access to in the private sector,” says Schurman. “My goal is to bring this all together, starting with PhenomAInon.”

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