24 June 2021
Entrepreneur Robert F. Smith is one of the most preeminent investors in the fields of finance and technology. Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. For over 20 years, Smith has helped Vista grow to become a global investment firm across a range of investment strategies, investing exclusively in enterprise software.
In conversation with Macquarie Capital's Global Head of Financial Sponsors, Tom Amster, Robert discussed Vista's evolution, his thoughts on the current state of the market and the technologies that are going to transform the world. In answer to a question by Amster regarding the future of investment strategy in the tech sector, Smith said thatsoftware will continue to dominate for decades to come. Because, unlike hardware, software doesn’t have a defined shelf life.
“...software has infinite flexibility and capacity in the way that we are managing software today,” Smith said, explaining that artificial intelligence tools are making software even more efficient. “And that’s where we are going to see the exponential growth for opportunity in this space.”
Robert F. Smith has been recognised as a thought leader for both his financial acumen and his philanthropic vision. Smith is the founding director and President of Fund II Foundation, a nonprofit grant-making organization working on the forefront of equity for minorities in the United States. Smith took the Giving Pledge in 2017, becoming the first African American to do so. Since then, Smith’s philanthropic goal to uplift the human spirit has taken many forms, but the most well-known are his educational gifts. In 2019, Smith made international headlines as the commencement speaker who paid off the student loan debts of the Morehouse College Class of 2019. Smith then organized a coalition to target educational inequity focusing on the loan debts which disproportionately impact Black and minority families.
As an entrepreneur bridging the worlds of finance and technology, Smith’s background is unique. Smith graduated from Cornell University’s College of Engineering. After a successful career as a chemical engineer, Smith leveraged his gift for understanding the future direction of technology. After Smith graduated from Columbia Business School with honors, he worked at Goldman Sachs before launching Vista in 2000.
Smith uses his platform to advocate for equitable opportunity for all with 'The 2% Solution'. Working with public and private sector groups, Smith advances economic research that shows the beneficial impact of diversity on commerce as well as community. Smith’s past endeavours in community uplift saw him recognized with the Jackie Robinson Foundation ROBIE Achievement in Industry Award, among many other honors, including the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and the Ripple of Hope Award from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
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