– Wall Street was still agog Tuesday about Warren Buffett’s selection of Todd Combs, a little-known 39-year-old fund manager who is the leading contender to take over Mr. Buffett’s portfolio when the investing legend dies or retires.
Mr. Combs was one of hundreds of people who responded to an unconventional “help wanted” request Mr. Buffett made in early 2007. But his initial inquiry didn’t distinguish itself.
Combs recently sent a letter to Berkshire Vice Chairman Charles Munger asking for a meeting. Mr. Munger said in an interview that he gets “hundreds” of such requests each year, but “something in his request piqued my interest.”
The two soon met for a lunch that extended well into the afternoon at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Munger later phoned Mr. Buffett and told him, “this is a guy I am sure you are going to like,” Mr. Munger recalls.
Mr. Buffett says he and Mr. Munger were sold on Mr. Combs. “He is a 100% fit for our culture,” Mr. Buffett says. “I can define the culture while I am here, but we want a culture that is so embedded that it doesn’t get tested when the founder of it isn’t around. Todd is perfect in that respect.”
Mr. Combs’s rise to one of the most visible, and high-pressure, posts in American business doesn’t follow a typical path of privilege and pedigree.