If you hear the name Oprah Winfrey, you automatically know exactly who that is. Media mogul, self made billionaire, daytime television queen…the list goes on and on.
But what about Robert F. Smith? Does that name ring a bell?
If it doesn’t, don’t feel bad – not many people do…but they should.
Robert F. Smith is the second richest black person in America, with a net worth of $2.5 billion that he has quietly amassed over the years. He is not an athlete. Nor a rapper. Nor an actor. He is a man with an acute business sense and a work ethic and level of perseverance that is second to none (well maybe Oprah, but aren’t we all second to her?)
The Denver native is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm with about $16 billion in client assets. They mostly invest in software and technology businesses and boast an average return of a staggering 30% on their companies, having never lost A DOLLAR on any of their investments, which is more than even Warren Buffett can say.
A self-proclaimed computer science geek, prior to founding Vista, Robert had held executive positions at the likes of Goldman Sachs and provided strategic advice for companies including Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments and more. He earned his BA and MBA from Columbia University and currently serves on the boards of all the companies in Vista’s portfolio.
With this unparalleled level of success, Smith still has faced his own bouts of discrimination, being a black man in an industry that is not the most receptive to you. Yet his achievements are proof that with the right mindset towards adversity and drive, that ANYTHING is possible.