Robert F. Smith Net Worth
Robert F. Smith net worth: Robert F. Smith is an American businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has a net worth of $5 billion. Robert F. Smith is the wealthiest black person in America and one of the 125 richest people in the United States overall. He is the first black man to sign the Giving Pledge and has already moved quickly to give away large portions of his net worth. More details on his philanthropy later in this article.
Robert earned his net worth as the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners LLC. Founded in 2000, today Vista Equity Partners controls more than $50 billion in assets and has delivered an average annual return north of 30% since its inception.
Before launching Vista, Robert F. Smith worked for Goldman Sachs in the Mergers & Acquisitions division from 1994 to 2000. He worked for Kraft from 1986 to 1992. Smith graduated from Cornell University and Columbia Business School.
Richest Black Person in America: Robert F. Smith is currently the richest black man in America. For many years he was the second richest black person in American behind media mogul Oprah Winfrey. At the time, Oprah's $3.3 billion net worth topped Robert's $2.5 billion net worth. In March 2018 it was revealed that Smith's net worth had rocketed to $4.5 billion which was enough to make him the richest black person in America. At the time basically no one had ever heard of Robert F. Smith. As of May 2019, Robert is worth $5 billion which makes him the second-richest black person in the world behind Nigerian oil magnate Aliko Dangote who is worth $10 billion.
Early Life: Robert F. Smith was born on December 1, 1962 in Denver, Colorado. He is a fourth generation Coloradan. His schoolteacher parents both have PhDs. Smith showed tenacity early in life. In high school, he applied for an internship at Bell Labs. The problem was, the program was for junior and senior college students only. Smith was undaunted. He called the H.R. Director at Bell Labs every single day for two weeks. Then he cut back and just called every Monday for another five months. When an intern from M.I.T. didn't show up in June to start the internship, the H.R. Director finally called him back and Smith got the job. While interning at Bell Labs that summer, he developed a reliability test for semiconductors.
After earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Cornell University he landed a job at Goodyear Tire and Rubber. He then worked as a chemical engineer at Kraft from 1986 to 1992. While at Kraft he earned two European patents. Robert eventually decided to go back to school to earn MBA. After getting his MBA from Columbia University, he was hired by Goldman Sachs. While at Goldman he advised on $50 billion worth of technology merger and acquisition deals.
Vista Equity Partners: As we mentioned previously, Robert F. Smith founded Vista Equity Partners soon after leaving Goldman in 2000. The private equity/venture capital firm focuses on investing in technology and passive income software businesses. The company has offices in Austin, Texas and San Francisco. As of this writing they manage $46 billion in assets and owns more than 50 software companies that employ 65,000 people worldwide. That employee count makes Vista the fourth largest enterprise software company in the world after SAP, Oracle, then Microsoft.
Vista likes to buy software companies that dominate a unique niche of customers who pay for the software every month/year, forever. The beauty of these businesses is that, in most cases, the bones of the software are written just once. It is then maintained periodically with minor patches and upgrades but in the meantime those annual fees keep getting paid. A good example is fitness platform MINDBODY. MINDBODY is software that helps customers reserve classes and treatments at yoga studios, spas and gyms around the country. If you've ever checked into a class on an iPad at a yoga studio or gym, there's a very good chance you're using MINDBODY's software. The studio/gym/spa loves the software because it enables them to have professional services for a relatively minimal annual fee that they never stop paying. Vista acquired MINDBODY for $1.9 billion in December 2018.
Tax Charges: In October 2020 Robert agreed to pay $140 million to settle a four-year tax crime investigation. Smith had been charged with evading taxes through the use of offshore accounts. As part of the settlement, the government agreed to drop charges but Robert had to agree to admit wrongdoing. The $140 million settlement covers back taxes, interest and penalties. Roughly 10 months before the settlement, federal prosecutors alleged that Robert avoided taxes on roughly $200 million worth of assets moved from Vista to several offshore corporations.
Personal Life: Robert has been married to former Playboy model Hope Dworaczyk since 2015. John Legend and Seal both performed at the ceremony, which took place on Italy's Amalfi Coast at an estate called Villa Cimbrone.
Hope was the Playmate of the month April 2009 and Playmate of the year 2010. She and Robert have two children together. Robert has three children from his previous marriage to Suzanne McFayden. Robert and Suzanne separated in 2010 but their divorce wasn't finalized until 2014.
Philanthropy: Robert is the first African American to serve on the board of Carnegie Hall. Smith is the Chairman of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and is a Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council. In 2018 he was the largest individual donor to the City of Hope Gala. He donated $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He donated $50 million to his alma mater, Cornell University. He also separately has donated millions of dollars to various causes ranging from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to Global Wildlife Conservation and the National Park Foundation.
In May 2017 Robert signed The Giving Pledge – the philanthropic movement led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates where billionaires are encouraged to give away a majority (at least 50%) of their fortunes either during their lifetimes or upon their deaths.
In May 2019, during his Morehouse College commencement speech, Robert F. Smith announced he would be paying off all student debt incurred by the class of 2019.
Real Estate: Robert and Hope own homes in Los Angeles, Florida and New York City.
In 2018 they paid $18 million for a beachfront mansion in Malibu. Located on what is appropriately known as "Billionaires Beach", they listed this home for sale in November 2020 for $24.5 million. The sold the home in January 2021 for their exact offering price.
They own a second home in Malibu, which was bought in 2016 for $19.5 million from Real Housewives star Yolanda Hadid.
In 2018 they bought a New York City home – a condo in Chelsea, for a mind-numbing $59 million. The couple has since put the condo under massive renovations, much to the annoyance of his neighbors who have complained publicly about the ongoing noise.
In November 2020 they paid $48.2 million for two homes in North Palm Beach. One is a large beachfront mansion, the other is a smaller home across the street. The seller was Rockstar Energy billionaire Russ Weiner. The home is located in an oceanfront gated community called Seminole Landing. The homes were built by Tiger Woods' ex-wife Elin Nordegren in 2014. She sold them to Weiner in September 2020 for $32.9 million. That's right. Weiner owned the homes for about a month and cleared a $15 million profit. Here's a video tour of the house:
Robert F. Smith
|Net Worth:||$5 Billion|