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Robert F. Smith

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Information about Robert F. Smith

Profile image of Robert F. Smith

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Private Equity Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Gumbo, Peach Cobbler, Mexican Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home in Colorado
Favorite Quote:
You Are Enough As You Are, Discover The Joys Of Figuring Things Out, Love Is What Matters

Birthplace

Born:
12/1/1962
Birth Location:
Denver, Colorado

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Private Equity Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Gumbo, Peach Cobbler, Mexican Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home in Colorado
Favorite Quote:
You Are Enough As You Are, Discover The Joys Of Figuring Things Out, Love Is What Matters

Birthplace

Born:
12/1/1962
Birth Location:
Denver
See how Robert F. Smith is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Investment chief executive Robert Frederick Smith was born on December 1, 1962 in Denver, Colorado to educators Dr. William Robert Smith and Dr. Sylvia Myrna Smith. Smith attended Carson Elementary School and Gove Jr. High School in Denver. He then graduated from Denver East High School in 1981 and Cornell University with his B.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1986. He worked as an engineer for Air Products and Chemicals, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Kraft General Foods. Smith was the principal inventor on two United States and two European patents. Smith received his M.B.A. degree with a concentration in finance and marketing from Columbia Business School in 1994.

After business school, Smith joined Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions department in New York and then moved to San Francisco in 1997 to initiate Goldman Sachs’ merger and acquisition efforts there. As co-head of Enterprise Systems and Storage, he oversaw $50 billion in merger and acquisition activity with the following companies: Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, eBay and Yahoo. Smith left Goldman Sachs in 2000 to found his own company, Vista Equity Partners LLC. In 2015, the HEC-Dow Jones Private Equity Performance Ranking named Vista Equity Partners LLC as one of the industry’s top performers.

Smith was a member of the Leadership Circle for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and an active supporter of the organization Children’s Opportunities for Music Participation. He was also Chairman of the Board of the Robert F. Kennedy Center, a member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, a trustee at Columbia Business School, trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs in San Francisco, and a board member of Carnegie Hall. Smith also received honorary doctorates from American University and Huston-Tillotson University.

Smith received the Reginald F. Lewis Achievement Award, the Ripple of Hope Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Robert Toigo Foundation, the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Investment Companies, and the Columbia University BBSA Distinguished Alumni Award. Smith, a well known philanthropist, donated $30 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and $50 million to Cornell University.

Smith and his wife, Hope Dworaczyk, have one son, Hendrix Robert Smith, and he has three children, Zoe Suzanne Smith, Eliana Frederick Smith and Maximos Robert Smith, from a prior marriage.

Robert F. Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 10, 2015.

See how Robert F. Smith is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert F. Smith's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith talks about his paternal family ancestry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith talks about his father's childhood in Lincoln Hills, Colorado, the first resort community founded by African Americans in 1922
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith talks about his maternal family ancestry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith describes his parents' belief in uplifting the African American community through education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith describes his mother's upbringing in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith talks about his father's experience growing up in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert F. Smith describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert F. Smith talks briefly about his older brother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robert F. Smith describes a number of his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Robert F. Smith remembers becoming aware of racism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Robert F. Smith describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his neighborhood in East Denver, Colorado, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith talks about his and his brother's golf ball business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith remembers the Civil Rights Movement and murder of his uncle
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of his neighborhood in East Denver, Colorado pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith describes his personality as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith explains what influenced his interest in business and talks about his childhood entrepreneurial ventures
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith describes his older brother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith explains how he got an internship at Bell Labs Development Company
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith describes his experience as an intern at Bell Labs
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith explains how his time at Bell Labs inspired the idea of having a software and technology-based business of his own
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert Smith describes his experience at Harrington Kindergarten and being bused to Carson Elementary School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith describes his experience at Carson Elementary School, Columbine Elementary School, and University Park Elementary School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith talks about his experience at Gove Junior High School in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith talks about the student body demographic and racist microaggressions in middle and high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith describes his childhood summers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith talks about socioeconomic inequalities between Denver's black and white demographics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith talks about the Minority Introduction to Engineering program for high school students at Cornell University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith talks about the college application process and choosing Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith talks about the Committee on Special education Projects [COSEP] pre-freshman program at Cornell University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith talks about pledging Alpha Phi Alpha
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith talks about black Greek life at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith talks about his experience in the engineering school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith talks about winning the Procter and Gamble Technical Excellence Award and interning at the Rocky Flats plant
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith describes the chemical engineering curriculum at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith talks about graduating from Cornell University and working for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith describes his experience in the Squadron program at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith talks about his tenure at Air Products and Chemicals Inc. developing food packaging and preservation products
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith talks about mechanical engineering, product development, and his patented inventions at Goodyear and Kraft General Foods
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith talks about developing microprocessor controlled coffee brewing equipment
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert F. Smith talks about his tenure at Kraft General Foods
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Robert F. Smith talks briefly about the death of his father
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith talks about getting into the J.D. MBA program at Columbia University in New York, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith describes meeting John Utendahl and transitioning into investment banking
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith explains why he went to Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith talks about developing the "real-life training program" for the mergers and acquisitions department at Goldman Sachs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith talks briefly about working at Kraft General Foods between semesters of graduate school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith lists figures in the mergers and acquisitions department at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. in the 1990s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith describes working on hostile takeover deals
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith describes the role emotional intelligence plays in the investment banking
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith lists the African American partners at Goldman Sachs in the 1990s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert F. Smith talks about his relationship with Gene Sykes and developing an M&A department in technology for Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Robert F. Smith talks about creating the first Goldman Sachs mergers and acquisitions department in technology in San Francisco, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Robert F. Smith talks briefly about research analyst and HistoryMaker Charles Phillips
  • Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Robert F. Smith talks about creating the first Goldman Sachs mergers and acquisitions department in technology in San Francisco, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith describes the competitive environment at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith describes his introduction to Universal Computer Systems
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith describes advising Universal Computer Systems and founding his investment firm, Vista Equity Partners, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith describes advising Universal Computer Systems and founding his investment firm, Vista Equity Partners, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith explains how Vista Equity Partners survived the market crash
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith talks about profit potential in the enterprise software market
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith describes the Vista Equity Partners client selection process
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith talks about racial and ethnic diversity in investment banking and at Vista Equity Partners
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith talks about Vista Equity's first fund
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith describes the pay structure for partners at Vista Equity Partners
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith describes the Vista Equity Partners business model
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith revisits mistakes he made in Vista Equity's first decade
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith talks about aggregating Ventyx and MDSI to build the world's largest independent utility software company
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith talks about Vista Equity's investment in Aspect Call Center Software Solutions
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith talks about the use of learning management systems in hiring processes, and investing in learning management systems software
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith talks about his client Sunquest, an enterprise software company in hospital lab systems
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith talks about the 2012 Misys and Turaz merger
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith talks about the protection of Vista Equity's intellectual property and standard operating procedures
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith talks about innovation in the enterprise software market
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith explains surviving the economic crashes in 2008 and 2009
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith talks about competitors in the enterprise software market
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith describes his plan to establish permanent capital for Vista Equity Partners to grow the company
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith talks about using data processing aptitude testing to evaluate potential hires
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Robert F. Smith talks about raising money from state pension funds for Vista Equity Partners
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Robert F. Smith talks about purchasing and expanding the Lincoln Hills resort community in Colorado, and community programming at the property, pt.1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Robert F. Smith describes the history of the Lincoln Hills African-American resort community in Colorado
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Robert F. Smith talks about purchasing and expanding the Lincoln Hills resort community in Colorado, and community programming at the property, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Robert F. Smith talks about his family
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Robert F. Smith explains free-market philanthropy and talks about his free consulting business, Project Realize
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Robert F. Smith talks about race relations in contemporary American society
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Robert F. Smith considers his legacy
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Robert F. Smith considers the legacy of his generation and contemporary human rights issues
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Robert F. Smith considers his hopes and concerns for the future African American demographic