Houghton Shifted Corning from Cookware to Fiber Optics

(p. A13) When Amory Houghton became chief executive of Corning Glass Works in 1964, the company founded by his great-great grandfather was thriving. Known to the general public for Pyrex measuring cups and Corning Ware casseroles, it dominated the U.S. market for the glass used to encase TV tubes.

But the company, now known as Corning Inc., proved too reliant on those tubes, which accounted for as much as 75% of profit. In the mid-1970s, the company faced a recession and the loss of TV-related business as Japanese imports captured the U.S. market. Profits collapsed, and Mr. Houghton had to chop costs, including at the headquarters in Corning, N.Y. The global workforce dropped by more than one-third.

. . .

“It was tough making these cuts,” he said, “particularly when you lived in a small town where you knew a lot of these people.”

Corning bounced back, unlike many other U.S. manufacturing giants. That was partly because Mr. Houghton made a long-term commitment to development of fiber optics. He correctly saw that hair-thin strands of glass would replace copper wire in transmissions of voice and data. “It’s our turf, with our patents,” he said.

By the late 1990s, optical fiber and related telecommunications products accounted for more than half of Corning’s operating profits.

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Executive Lifted Corning With Bet on Fiber Optics.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 14, 2020): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date March 13, 2020, and the title “Amory Houghton’s Bet on Fiber Optics Helped Save Corning.”)

Frustration of a Non-Expert Entrepreneur Inspired the Creation of Square

(p. B6) It was 2009, and Mr. McKelvey—a glassblower, computer scientist and serial entrepreneur—had lost a sale of one of his artworks because he couldn’t accept American Express cards. Though neither he nor Mr. Dorsey, now CEO of Square and Twitter Inc., knew much about the world of credit-card transactions, his frustration inspired the creation of Square’s signature white readers, a technology that would revolutionize payments by allowing anyone to accept a card with a smartphone or tablet.

In his new book, “The Innovation Stack,” Mr. McKelvey uses the story of Square’s early days, and its success in fending off a rival product from Amazon.com Inc., to encourage other potential founders with a dearth of credentials to fix unsolved problems and start novel businesses.

“If you’re going to do something that’s never been done, by definition, you cannot be an expert,” he said. “Take it from a glassblower who started a $30 billion payment company: You don’t have to be.”

. . .

“. . . there are no experts anymore. We’re living in a world without expertise, and that’s the world of the entrepreneur, like it or not.”

For the full interview, see:

Peter Rudegeair, interviewer. “Square’s Co-Founder Sees Openings in Recessions.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, May 26, 2020): B6.

(Note: ellipses, and quotation marks around last two sentences, added.)

(Note: the online version of the television review has the date May 24, 2020, and has the same title “BOSS TALK; Square’s Co-Founder: A Recession Is a Great Time to Start a Company.” The first several paragraphs quoted above are from Pter Rudegeair’s introduction to his interview of Jim McKelvey. The last couple of sentences are from McKelvey’s response to the last question in the interview.)

The book, mentioned above in the introduction to the interview, is:

McKelvey, Jim. The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. New York: Portfolio, 2020.

YouTube, Vimeo, and Twitter Censor Firm Working on Ultraviolet Covid-19 Cure

(p. A15) Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Aytu BioScience made a commitment to find ways to help. One of those ways came through our newly formed relationship with a prominent Los Angeles hospital.

On April 20 [2020] we put out a press release titled “Aytu BioScience Signs Exclusive Global License with Cedars-Sinai for Potential Coronavirus Treatment.” The treatment is called Healight, and it was developed by research physicians at the hospital’s Medically Associated Science and Technology Program. The technology, which has been in development since 2016, uses ultraviolet light as an antimicrobial and is a promising potential treatment for Covid-19.

Aytu and Cedars-Sinai have engaged with the Food and Drug Administration to pursue a rapid path to human use through an Emergency Use Authorization. But hardly anyone noticed—until Thursday, when President Trump mused, “. . . supposing you brought the light inside the body . . .”

My team and I knew the president’s comments could trigger a backlash against the idea of UV light as a treatment, which might hinder our ability to get the word out. We decided to create a YouTube account, upload a video animation we had created, and tweet it out. It received some 50,000 views in 24 hours.

Then YouTube took it down. So did Vimeo. Twitter suspended our account. The narrative changed from whether UV light can be used to treat Covid-19 to “Aytu is being censored.”

For the full commentary, see:

Josh Disbrow. “Ultraviolet Light Takes Political Heat.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 28, 2020): A15.

(Note: bracketed year added, ellipses in original.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 27, 2020, and the title “An Experimental Ultraviolet Light Treatment for Covid-19 Takes Political Heat.”)

Seeking Cure for Covid-19, Scientist in Elite Group Identifies the FDA as “the Problem Here”

(p. A1) A dozen of America’s top scientists and a collection of billionaires and industry titans say they have the answer to the coronavirus pandemic, and they found a backdoor to deliver their plan to the White House.

The eclectic group is led by a 33-year-old physician-turned-venture capitalist, Tom Cahill, who lives far from the public eye in a one-bedroom rental near Boston’s Fenway Park. He owns just one suit, but he has enough lofty connections to influence government decisions in the war against Covid-19.

. . .

(p. A6) Brian Sheth, co-founder of private-equity firm Vista Equity Partners, and a Democrat, had been watching the effort gather steam from his home in Austin, Texas. He was an early investor in Dr. Cahill’s fund and had been on the first call. His expertise was technology, though, not immunology.

He had become friendly with Thomas Hicks Jr., the Dallas businessman and co-chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mr. Sheth introduced Mr. Hicks to Dr. Cahill’s group.

The connection cinched ties between a group of mostly liberal scientists from left-leaning institutions with a Republican stalwart who hunts birds with Donald Trump Jr.

In his first chat with the group, Mr. Hicks said, “I’m not a scientist. Make it clear enough for me, and then tell me where the red tape is.”

A major concern of the scientists was the FDA. The scientists had in their research identified monoclonal antibody drugs that latch onto virus cells as the most promising treatment. But to make the medicine in sufficient quantities, one drugmaker, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., would have to shift some of its existing manufacturing to Ireland. FDA rules required a monthslong wait for approval.

Mr. Scolnick, who had tussled with bureaucracy during the AIDS epidemic, tried reaching the FDA. The call ended poorly after the bureaucrats told the group they already had the pandemic under control. In a group call afterward, one of the scientists said, of the FDA: “They’re the problem here.”

Dr. Cahill got in touch with Mr. Ayers. Once the group briefed the vice president’s aide on the bottleneck, Mr. Ayers said he knew who to call. That evening, March 27, Regeneron received a call from the FDA. They had permission, starting immediately, to shift production to Dublin.

For the full story, see:

Rob Copeland. “Scientists, Billionaires Mount Manhattan Project for Covid-19.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 28, 2020): A1 & A6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date April 27, 2020, and the title “The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19.”)

California Places the Regulatory “Final Straw” on Elon Musk’s Tesla

(p. A15) Informed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s authorities that his factory in Fremont had to remain in lockdown, Mr. Musk tweeted: “Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”

The keyword here is “final straw,” suggesting that Mr. Musk’s cost-of-doing-business problems with California predate this virus. Hundreds of businesses already have relocated out of California, fleeing the uncountable regulatory straws the state has laid across the backs of anyone doing business there.

For the full commentary, see:

Daniel Henninger. “WONDER LAND; Elon Musk’s ‘Final Straw’.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 21, 2020): A15.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 20, 2020 and has the same title as the print version.)

Methotrexate Hoped to Moderate Covid-19 Cytokine Storm

(p. A15) Today Dr. Frohman and his team of researchers believe one treatment for MS could do the same for seriously ill Covid-19 patients.

The drug is called methotrexate, and it’s already proven to calm the chaotic responses of panicked immune systems. “A blast of this drug, over a matter of hours . . . pulls the cord on the panic button and resets the immune system,” Dr. Frohman tells me.

The new research is set to be published as early as this week in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences. Methotrexate already has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning doctors treating Covid-19 patients could begin using it immediately. National Institutes of Health immunologist Avindra Nath said this week that combining methotrexate with remdesivir, an antiviral drug, may set a new standard for fighting the most serious Covid cases.

For the full commentary, see:

Peggy Wehmeyer. “A Covid Drug to Help Fight the Storm.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 14, 2020): A15.

(Note: ellipsis in original.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 13, 2020 and has the same title as the print version.)

The Frohman research, mentioned above, is reported in:

Frohman, Elliot M., Esther Melamed, Roberto Alejandro Cruz, Reid Longmuir, Lawrence Steinman, Scott S. Zamvil, Nicole R. Villemarette-Pittman, Teresa C. Frohman, and Matthew S. Parsons. “Part I. Sars-Cov-2 Triggered ‘Panic’ Attack in Severe Covid-19.” Journal of the Neurological Sciences (in-press 2020).

Frohman, Elliot M., Roberto Alejandro Cruz, Reid Longmuir, Lawrence Steinman, Scott S. Zamvil, Nicole R. Villemarette-Pittman, Teresa C. Frohman, and Matthew S. Parsons. “Part II. High-Dose Methotrexate with Leucovorin Rescue for Severe Covid-19: An Immune Stabilization Strategy for Sars-Cov-2 Induced ‘Panic’ Attack.” Journal of the Neurological Sciences (in-press 2020).