The Texas Business and Innovation Icons of 1973 and 2023

This article is texas monthly50th anniversary special about Other icons It has defined Texas since 1973.

Business and innovation go in two directions in Texas. People come here to dream big and they export their great ideas all over the world. No, it’s not just oil (of course, often teeth for oil). Technology, construction, cosmetics, jewelry, medical advances, Texas is involved in almost every sector imaginable. And that two-way traffic shows no signs of slowing down.

aspiring world leader

H. Ross Perot

The Dallas billionaire tech entrepreneur’s Texarkana accent was the butt of a late-night joke.

Mark Cuban

Another Dallas billionaire, spawned by the dot-com boom of the late ’90s, is the owner of Mavericks, shark tank Fueling his political ambitions, the star launched a company aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs.


T. Boone Pickens

The Oklahoma-turned-Texan shook Big Oil by launching a one-sided bid to buy a large company and defending the rights of its shareholders. His down-to-earth demeanor earned him executives outside the suite.

Elon Musk

South Africans seem to have become Californians, Texans, and disrupting industries such as automobiles, energy, and aerospace for breakfast. And now that he’s taken over Twitter, he can infuriate millions of people every day.


The Bases

Generations in this family have donated much of their oil-derived wealth to national institutions such as Yale University. Closer to home, they helped revitalize downtown Fort Worth.

John and Laura Arnold

Houston power couple mobilizes Texas philanthropy by spending billions to fight big pharma price hikes, advocate for contraceptive access and push to end predatory financing in higher education raised expectations of


Trammel Crow

He built his Dallas firm into what is probably the first national real estate development company, reshaping the nation’s downtown skylines and setting the stage for the sparkling cityscapes now inhabited by Texans.

Jason Ballard

The CEO of Austin-based printing home company Icon is using his giant construction robot to help people out of the global housing crisis by making homes built faster and more resilient. It is described as a tool for

lifestyle entrepreneur

Mary Kay Ash

A pioneer in Dallas cosmetics and multi-level marketing, he turned the Tupperware house party concept into an extravagant neighborhood beauty bash and launched an army of salesmen in pink Cadillacs.

Chip and Joanna Gaines

An odd couple home remodeler made Waco a retail destination before transitioning into a full-blown mogul with homewares, best-selling books and its own cable channel.

Retail company

Robert Sakowitz

This boom-and-bust Texan gambled it all in Houston’s ’70s go-go era, expanding his family’s eponymous department store chain and taking on mountains of debt, but in the ’80s he was forced to scramble alongside the oil market. collapsed.

Kendra Scott

Austin transplanted, she has grown her jewelry business into a thriving e-commerce site and over 100 stores by catering to middle-class customers often targeted by coastal fashion elites.

famous lawyer

Richard “Racehorse” Haynes

Beginning with the defense of a River Oaks surgeon accused of poisoning his wife with eclairs, the Houstonian began his role as a flamboyant Texas criminal defense attorney.

Thomas J. Henry

Today’s most famous Texas lawyers tout their prowess in winning multi-million dollar lawsuits. San Antonio-based Henry used the formula to form the self-proclaimed largest personal injury company in the state.

medical innovator

Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley

Their decades-long feud overshadowed the fact that the collaboration of two Houston surgeons had successfully implanted the world’s first total artificial heart.

James P. Allison

This MD Anderson iconoclast pioneered a new way to fight cancer by unleashing the body’s immune system. He won a Nobel Prize and played harmonica with Willie Nelson.

This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue. texas monthlyWith the headline “Icons, then and now.”subscribe today.

Image credits: Perot: Ron Heflin/AP; Cuban: Andrew Eccles/ABC/Getty; Pickens: Mary Altafer/AP; Musk: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty; Bass: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP; Peter Yan. Crowe: Dallas Morning News/AP; Ballard: Diego Donamaria/Getty; Ash: Graham Bezant/Toronto Star/Getty; Gaines: Brian Ach/Invision/AP; Sakowitz: John Olson/Getty; Nfelder/FilmMagic/Getty; Haynes: WBAP-TV/NBC5/KXAS-TV/University of North Texas Libraries/The Portal to Texas History; Henry: Johnny Nunez/Getty; DeBakey: AP; Cooley: Donald Uhrbrock/Getty; : Christoph Schmidt/AP

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