Robert Frederick Smith needs no introduction, at least not to the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College whose student loan debt were canceled by him. This high profile philanthropist is ranked as one of the wealthiest people in the United States of America and he is known to have garnered much of his wealth from Vista Equity Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm, which he founded in the year 2000.
Prior to starting his own investment firm, the billionaire served as chief executive of Goldman Sachs. However, that was not where Smith started his career pursuits as reports have it that his high business acumen was developed back in his high school days at Denver Colorado.
Robert Frederick Smith Developed His Dogged Business Mindset At An Early Stage
While Frederick was still in high school at East High, Denver Colorado, he applied for an internship position at Bell Labs Innovations but was turned down on the premise that he was not a college student. After much persuasion coupled with the no-show of an M.I.T student, Smith got the position. During his time at Bell Labs, the chemical engineer invented a reliability test for semiconductors. His invention earned him widespread praise from his fellow interns and supervisors.
Upon completing his internship program at Bell Labs, Smith got admitted to the prestigious Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He graduated in 1985 with a degree in Chemical Engineering after which he found work as an engineer at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. From there, he switched over to Air Products and Chemical before finally joining Kraft General Foods. It may interest you to know that while at Kraft General Foods, the chemical engineer earned European and United States patents for two of his creations.
In 1994, the popular philanthropist accepted a job at Goldman Sachs. He worked in the technology investment banking department of the multinational investment bank for about a year. Frederick was then transferred to Silicon Valley in 1997 to pioneer the mergers and acquisitions office. He rose to become co-head of enterprise systems and storage investment banking at the bank. He is credited to have advised the bank on mergers and acquisition deals with big companies like Microsoft, eBay, Texas Instruments, Yahoo, and Apple. However, Smith left Goldman Sachs in the year 2000 to start up his own equity and investment firm.
The Creation Of Vista Equity Partners Was A Major Milestone In The Businessman’s Career Timeline
Following a decision to strike out on his own, Smith left Goldman Sachs to create Vista Equity Partners. The company was initially focused exclusively on investing in technology and enterprise software companies. Smith then spearheaded the growth of the company by acquiring holdings and investments in many top companies across the globe. Some of their portfolio companies include Finastra, Solera, TIBCO, Datto, Cvent, Lithium, Ping Identity, Mediaocean, Vertafore, and Infoblox.
The venture capital firm was named in 2015 by HEC-Dow Jones as the best performing private equity firm in the past decade. The private equity firm has also helped its investors generate bumper returns of their investments and increased in its assets under management.
In 2016, Smith received the Game Changer of the Year award presented by Private Equity International. Two years down the line, Smith also made the New Establishment List published by Vanity Fair to recognize individuals who have made a great impact in business. As of 2020, Vista Equity Partners is reported to have over $ 60 billion under assets management with more than 50 companies under its control and a workforce base of over 65,000 personnel.
What Does Robert Smith Spend His Money On?
According to Forbes, the investor has a net worth estimated to be around $5 billion. This ultimately makes him the richest black man in America. Robert Frederick Smith primarily amassed his fortune as a venture capitalist earning huge returns on his investments in software companies. His equity firm reportedly earns annual revenue of $ 1.2 billion.
With regard to how he spends his money, the business mogul owns palatial mansions across different states in America. He has a residential home in Austin in addition to a property in Malibu, California worth around $ 19.5 million and another one in New York worth $59 million. More so, the business magnate has a reputation for being a charitable individual and a philanthropist. Smith signed on to The Giving Pledge, initiated by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, to donate a significant proportion of his wealth to charity and philanthropic causes around the world.
He also serves as the chairman on board of Carnegie Hall, making him the first black American to hold such a position. Robert Frederick Smith then founded the Fund II Foundation where he presently serves as president. Fund II has made huge investments in various organizations around the world including UNCF, Global Wildlife Conservation, Susan G. Komen, and National Park Foundation.
As of 2018, the business magnate was reported as the largest individual donor at the glamorous City of Hope Gala. The gala was to raise funds to support the treatment of prostate and breast cancer for black men and women respectively. So far, the Colorado native has given out hundreds of millions of dollars from his wealth to support humanitarian activities. For his gestures, Smith has received many distinguished awards and honors including the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and many honorary doctorate degrees.
Robert Frederick Smith Has Been Married Twice
Smith is presently married to Hope Dworaczyk, a former model and fashion editor. Hope first gained recognition in April 2009 when she emerged as Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Month. The following year she was named the Playmate of the Year.
Robert Frederick Smith and Hope Dworaczyk tied the nuptials at an elaborate wedding ceremony held at the Hotel Villa Cimbrone situated in Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The couple shares two lovely sons – Hendrix Robert Smith and Legend Robert Smith. Hendrix was born on December 19, 2014, while Legend was born on March 16, 2016. The billionaire and his family presently reside in their mansion in Austin, Texas.
Prior to marrying Hope, he was previously married to Suzanne McFayden Smith for about 22 years. They met as undergrads at Cornell University and their relationship blossomed up until the point of marriage in 1988. Robert’s union with Suzanne produced three children – Zoe, Eliana, and Max before their divorce in 2010.