Robert F. Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. He directs Vista’s investment strategy and decisions, firm governance and investor relations. Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of over $94 billion and oversees a portfolio of over 85 software companies that employ over 90,000 people worldwide. Since Vista’s founding in 2000, Smith has overseen over 570 completed transactions by the firm representing more than $265 billion in aggregate transaction value. There are over 200 million users of Vista’s software.
In 2020, Smith was named as one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2017, Forbes named Smith as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.
Born in Colorado to two parents with EdDs, Smith earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University. Following his MBA with honors from Columbia Business School, Smith worked at Kraft General Foods, where he earned two U.S. and two European patents. In 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking.
Smith is the founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the African American experience, safeguarding human rights, providing music education, preserving the environment while promoting the benefits of the outdoors, and sustaining critical American values. In January 2016, Cornell University honored Mr. Smith’s leadership by naming the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
In 2017, Smith signed on to the Giving Pledge, the only African American to do so. His gift of $20 million was the largest by an individual donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Smith is the Chairman of Carnegie Hall. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Business Roundtable, the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School, as a Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, and is a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco.
Smith has been a leading voice advocating for companies to take diverse internship candidates in STEM fields. Under his leadership, in 2019, Fund II Foundation launched internXL, a platform to match leading companies with diverse internship candidates.
In 2019, Smith made headlines by announcing that he would cover the student loans of nearly 400 Morehouse College 2019 graduates in a commencement address. After his Morehouse pledge, Smith founded Student Freedom Initiative to relieve the crushing burden of student debt for STEM students at all HBCUs.
Smith also has been a strong advocate for what he has named the 2% Solution – calling on large corporations to commit 2% of their annual net income for the next decade to empower minority communities.