Robert F. Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. He directs Vista's investment strategy and decisions, governance and investor relations. Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of over $58 billion and oversees a portfolio of more than 60 enterprise software, data and technology-enabled companies that employ over 70,000 people worldwide. Since Vista's inception, Smith has supervised over 455 completed transactions representing more than $155 billion in aggregate transaction value.
Born in Colorado to two parents with Doctor of Education (EdD) degrees, Smith trained as an engineer at Cornell University, earning his B.S. in Chemical Engineering. While earning his MBA from Columbia Business School with honors, he served as President of the Black Business Students' Association and President of the Japan Business Association. After graduation, he worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber, followed by Kraft General Foods, where he obtained two United States and two European patents.
In 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking, first in New York City and then in Silicon Valley. As Co‐Head of Enterprise Systems and Storage, he executed and advised on over $50 billion in merger and acquisition activity with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, eBay and Yahoo. He was the first person in San Francisco at Goldman to focus solely on mergers and acquisitions of technology and software companies.
In 2000, Smith founded Vista Equity Partners, along with Co-Founder Brian Sheth, to invest in businesses that develop and use technology, software and data to promote economic equity, ecological responsibility and diversity and inclusion for the prosperity of all. Vista achieves its mission of creating opportunity through the power of technology by using a variety of private equity, permanent capital, credit and public equity investment strategies.
As one of the top experts on investing in the software and technology industry in the world, Smith has been invited to speak about finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and related topics at a variety of venues, including the World Economic Forum and The Milken Institute, among others. He has also appeared in numerous interviews for television, written publications, podcasts and other media.