Black Business Profile: Vista Equity Partners

  • Vista Equity Partners (Vista) is an American private equity and venture capital firm focused on financing and forwarding software and technology-enabled startup businesses, as well as passive equity investments. The Firm invests in software and technology enabled businesses.
  • Vista) is one of the best-performing private equity firms of the last 15 years.
  • The firm was founded in 2000 by American businessman and investor Robert F. Smith and Brian Sheth.
  • Robert F. Smith (Vista’s Founder, Chairman and CEO) directs the firm’s investment strategy and decisions, governance and investor relations.
  • Robert F. Smith has delivered investors a staggering 31% average annual rate of return since co-founding Vista in 2000
  • Instead of stripping out costs from the companies it acquires, Vista usually adds sales and engineering talent.
  • Even with Vista’s incredible track record, Mr.Smith still faces an uphill battle acquiring new investors due to his race.
  • Offices in Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and San Francisco, California.
  • Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of over $57 billion and oversees a portfolio of more than 65 enterprise software, data, and technology-enabled companies that have more than 200 million users and employ over 70,000 people worldwide.
  • In 2016, Vista operated with approximately $10 billion in their VI fund
  • Since Vista’s founding in 2000, Mr. Smith has overseen over 400 completed transactions by the firm representing more than $130 billion in transaction value (See Below).
  • In September 2018, Vista announced it would be selling Marketo to Adobe Systems for $4.75 billion
Capital Commitment$57,000,000,000
Number of companies in portfolio60+
Average Annual Return31%

Vista Acquisitions

Robert F. Smith

  • Born in Colorado to two parents with EdDs, Mr. Smith trained as an engineer at Cornell University, earning his B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Upon receiving his MBA from Columbia Business School with honors, he worked at Kraft General Foods, where he earned two United States and two European patents.
  • In 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking, first in New York 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 Tech M&A
  • Mr. Smith discovered his passion for enterprise software when he joined Goldman Sachs’s technology team in San Francisco in 1996. He advised Apple on its decision to bring back its co-founder, Steven P. Jobs, as chief executive; helped orchestrate Hewlett-Packard’s spinoff of Agilent; and worked with clients including Microsoft, Yahoo and eBay.
  • In 2016, Cornell University honored Mr. Smith’s leadership by naming the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after Mr Smith’s $50 million commitment.
  • In 2017, Mr. Smith signed on to the Giving Pledge, the only African American to do so. That same year he was named by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.
  • In 2019, Mr. Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College and made headlines by announcing that he would cover the student loans of nearly 400 Morehouse College 2019 graduates in a commencement address. In December he was included on Bloomberg’s list of the 50 people who defined the year.
  • He is a major donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Chairman of Carnegie Hall and the Chair of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. He serves on the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School, as a Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, and a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco.

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