(born December 1, 1962) is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. A former chemical engineer and investment banker, he is the founder, chairman, and CEO ofprivate equityfirmVista Equity Partners. In 2018, Smith was ranked by2018 list of the worlds billionaires, with a net worth of US$4.4 billion.as one of the 100 greatest living business minds.declared Smith the wealthiestAfrican-American, surpassingOprah Winfrey.

Robert F. Smith was born a fourth generationColoradoanto Dr. William Robert Smith and Dr. Sylvia Myma Smith, who were both school teachers withPhDs.5He grew up in a predominantly African American, middle-class neighborhood inDenver. He attended Carson Elementary School in Denver.5

When he was an infant, his mother carried him at theMarch on Washington, where the Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.delivered hisI Have a Dreamspeech.

In high school, he applied for an internship atBell Labsbut was told the program was intended for college students. Smith persisted, calling every day. When a student fromM.I.T.did not show up, he got the position, and that summer he developed areliabilitytest forsemiconductors.67At Cornell he became a brother ofAlpha Phi Alpha.

After working atAir Products & ChemicalsGoodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and later atKraft General Foodsas a chemical engineer,5where he earned two United States and two European patents, he attendedColumbia Business School.8Smith earned an MBA with honors specializing in finance and marketing.5From 1994 to 2000, he joinedGoldman Sachsin technology investment banking, first inNew York Cityand then inSilicon Valley. He advised on over $50 billion in merger and acquisition activity with companies such asAppleMicrosoftTexas InstrumentseBay, andYahoo. He was the first person in the Goldman Sachs San Francisco office to focus solely on technology mergers and acquisitions.

In 2000, Smith foundedVista Equity Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm of which he is the principal founder, chairman and chief executive. As of 2019, Vista has over $46 billion in cumulative capital commitments, owns over 50 software companies and has 60,000 employees worldwide,910making it the fourth largestenterprise softwarecompany after Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.11Vista has exclusively focused on the enterprise software, data and technology sectors. Among Vistas portfolio companies are Finastra,TIBCO, Solera, Infoblox, Mediaocean, Vertafore, Ping Identity, Lithium, Cvent, and Datto.

In October 2014, Vista closed its Fund V at $5.8 billion.12

In January 2015, Vista Equity Partners was named the best performing private equity firm for the previous 10 years, according to theHECDow Jonesannual ranking conducted by professor Oliver Gottschalg.13Preqin, a consulting firm that tracks the industry, reports that Vistas third fund returned $2.46 for every dollar invested, better than every other big fund raised between 2006 and 2010, the boom years for private equity.7

In 2017, Vista Equity Partners was reported to have $30 billion under management,14and Smith was named as Private Equity Internationals 2016 Game Changer of the Year.15

In May 2019, Vista Equity Partners put in a bid to buyKantar, the data analytics business owned byWPP.16

Smith is the board chairman ofCarnegie Hall; he is the first African American to hold that position.17

Smith is the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation.18Under his leadership, Fund II Foundation has invested in organizations such as Cornell,UNCFNational Park FoundationSusan G. Komen, and Global Wildlife Conservation, among many others.19

He is the chairman ofRobert F. Kennedy Human Rights,20serves on the board of overseers of Columbia Business School, as a member of the Cornell Engineering College Council,21and a Trustee of theBoys & Girls Clubsof San Francisco.22

In 2018, Smith was the largest individual donor at theCity of HopeGala, earmarking funds towardsprostate cancertreatment for black men and forbreast cancerresearch for black women.23Smith also donated $2.5 million to theProstate Cancer Foundationto advance prostate cancer research among African-American men.24Also in 2018, Smith donated $1 million to the Cultural Performance Center at theDenny Farrell Riverbank State Parkin Harlem, which was subsequently named the Robert Frederick Smith Center for Performing Arts in recognition of his gift.25

Smith was named as one of thePhilanthropy 50byThe Chronicle of Philanthropyin 2017.26In May 2017,The Giving Pledgeannounced that Smith had joined its ranks as its first African-American signatory.27Smith is a member of the board of theLouis Armstrong House Museum, the only authentically preserved home of a jazz musician in the country, which manages the Louis Armstrong Research Collections, the largest single jazz musician archive in the world. With Smiths leadership at the Fund II Foundation, the museum has digitized the entire collection Armstrong left behind and made it available to the public.28

In 2016,Cornell Universityrecognized Smiths leadership by naming the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after him.29

Among the honors and awards Smith has received are the Candle in Business and Philanthropy Award fromMorehouse College,30the International Medical Corps Humanitarian of the Year Award,31Ebonys John H. Johnson Award,32theCongressional Black Caucus Foundations Chairmans Award,33theReginald F. LewisAchievement Award, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Robert Toigo Foundation, and the Ripple of Hope Award from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Smith was also awarded an honorary doctorate of International Affairs fromAmerican Universitys School of International Service34and an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College.35

In May 2019, he announced his intention to pay off the entire student loan debt of the 2019Morehouse Collegegraduating class of 396 students.3637This is my class,he told the graduating seniors,and I know my class will pay this forward.3538He had previously donated $1.5 million to the school in January 2019, to be used for scholarships and a park.39

Smith married his first wife, fellow Cornell alum Suzanne McFayden Smith, in 1988. They were married for 22 years before they separated in 2010; their divorce was finalized in 2014. Smith marriedHope Dworaczyk, a formerPlayboyplaymate, healthy living advocate, and fashion editor, on July 25, 2015.4041He has three children with his first wife, Zoe Smith, Eliana Smith and Max Smith42. Robert also has two sons with his wife Hope, Hendrix Robert Smith, born on December 19, 2014 and Legend Robert Smith, born on March 16, 2016.4344Smith owns a home inAustin, Texas,45a home inMalibu, Californiathat he bought for $19.5 million fromReal Housewives of Beverly HillsstarYolanda Hadid Foster, and a home in New York City he bought for $59 million.46

Vardi, Nathan.Richer Than Oprah: How the Nations Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech and Wall Street.

Reeves, Benjamin (April 8, 2015).Private Equitys Philosopher Alumni. Columbia.edu

David Gelles (April 10, 2014).A Private Equity Titan With a Narrow Focus and Broad Aims.

Who is this Robert Smith?: A quiet billionaire makes some noise with $20 million gift to the African American museum.

Vista Equity Partners to pay $1.9 billion in private-equity deal for Apptio.

Vista Equity: The Biggest Software Group Youve Never Heard Of.

Tan, Gillian (October 14, 2014).Vista Equity Partners Emerges From Private-Equity Shadows.

HEC-Dow Jones Private Equity Performance Rankings: Which Firms Generated Best Performance for Their Investors Over the Past Years?. PERACS. January 19, 2015

Cronin, Mike (May 26, 2017).Vista Equity billion-dollar buyout fund ranks among best-performing in U.S.

Mitchenall, Toby (March 1, 2017).Vistas Smith named PEIs 2016 Game Changer

Duke, Simon (May 28, tycoon sets sights on Kantar.

Smith, Jennifer (June 2, 2016).Carnegie Hall Names New Board Chairman: Private-Equity Financier Robert F. Smith.

Now the Richest Black American, Hes Also One of Americas Biggest Philanthropists.

Robert Smith Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. RFK Human Rights

Warner/Chappell Music CEO Jon Platt Lauded at City of Hope Gala: Hes the Obama of the Music Industry

Billionaire, Power 100 Honoree, Robert F. Smith Donates to Prostate Cancer • EBONY.

Riverbanks Cultural Center Renamed After $1 Million Gift

7 More U.S. Philanthropists Sign Giving Pledge. May 30, 2017.

Louis Armstrongs Life in Letters, Music and Art

Cornell names Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in recognition of the leadership of philanthropist.

Morehouse gets two $1M gifts at anniversary gala.

Ebony.com.EBONY Power 100 2017 Honoree – Robert F. Smith.

President Obama to Deliver Final Keynote at 46th ALC Phoenix Awards Dinner – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. August 24, 2016.

Emerson, Bo (May 19, 2019).JUST IN: Morehouse commencement speaker to pay off Class of 2019s student loans.

Billionaire Robert F. Smith pledges to pay off Morehouse College Class of 2019s student loans.

Whack, Errin Haines (May 19, 2019).Graduation speaker pledges to pay class of 2019 student debt.

Burch, Audra D. S.; Gelles, David (May 19, 2019).Morehouse Graduates Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire.

Stirgus, Eric (January 18, 2019).Morehouse to use $1.5 million gift on scholarships and a new park.

Hope Dworaczyk Smith Pregnant With Second Child!.

Who is this Robert Smith?: A quiet billionaire makes some noise with $20 million gift to the African American museum.

May 22, Caroline John-Published:; Am, 2019 at 9:49 (May 22, 2019).Suzanne McFayden Wiki: Facts about Billionaire Robert F. Smiths Ex-Wife.

Hope Smith on Instagram: What a ONEderful year it has been! Heres the aftermath of a successful 1st birthday cake smash. Thank you for choosing me to be your

Hope Smith on Instagram: Our hands are full of happiness and our hearts full of love… Welcome to the world Legend Robert Smith. 7lbs 8oz 20&3/4 inches long.

The Worlds Billionaires (2016 ranking): 688 Robert Smith.

Real Housewives of Malibu Part 2: Yolanda Hadid Foster sells to Robert & Hope Smith for nearly $20 million. May 12, 2016.

This page was last edited on 10 June 2019, at 15:56

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