Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, joined us on April 14, 2021, for Industry Insights Live. In an uplifting and deeply personal discussion, the renowned investor shared his thoughts on systemic racism, his experiences growing up in an all-Black segregated neighborhood, the impact Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination had on Smith as a child, and America’s incredible capacity to change for the better.
One of the most successful investors in the nation, Smith has overseen more than 480 transactions while leading Vista Equity Partners. A global investment firm focused on the enterprise software market, Vista has equity capital commitments of over $73 billion as of September 30, 2020 and a portfolio of more than 65 enterprise software, data, and technology-enabled companies that employ over 70,000 people worldwide.
As the dialogue progressed, the investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist provided insights on his extraordinary career that began as a chemical engineer before he moved into investment banking at Goldman Sachs and finally launched a leading global investment firm. The discussion also covered Smith’s tireless efforts to combat wealth and investment disparities in communities of color and the role diverse asset managers play in job creation.
More About Speaker Robert F. Smith
The same year he was included in Forbes 100 Greatest Living Business Minds, Smith signed on to the Giving Pledge becoming the first Black American to pledge a majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights honored Smith’s advocacy for social justice and equity in the boardroom as well as the classroom. And, Smith’s outreach and innovation fostered the creation of the Webby-award-winning video podcast series Black History in Two Minutes.
The global market-leading investment firm, Vista, specializes exclusively in data, technology and enterprise software. Smith serves Vista as Founder, Chairman and CEO. Before launching Vista, Smith was one of the first M&A investors to recognize the market potential of software solutions. Since then, the firm has continued to fuel the development of next-generation technology while delivering exceptional returns to its stakeholders.
There are those who know of Smith from the national headlines he garnered in 2019. After Morehouse College bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon Smith, he announced his pledge to eliminate the student loan debt of the entire class. But, Smith’s outreach into education solutions neither began nor ended there. Among his earlier donations, Smith sponsored Cornell University scholarships for minorities in STEM at his alma mater. After paying the Morehouse debt, Smith helped to create an income-continent funding alternative within Student Freedom Initiative, to liberate the future of entrepreneurship in Black communities.