Robert F. Smith is the second-richest Black person in America, but you’ve probably never heard of him.

The Denver native isn’t an entertainer, athlete, or media personality, but he’s quietly built his $2.5 billion fortune as the chairman and CEO Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm with approximately $15.9 billion in client assets.

Smith, a self-described computer science geek, earned a chemical engineering degree from Cornell before heading off to Colombia for a MBA. After working for Goldman Sachs for six years, he decided to do his own thing, and started Vista in 2000. The firm invests in enterprise software companies, and according to Smith’s Forbes cover story, it’s made a “killing,” regularly turning out 30 percent returns.

In spite of his enormous wealth and Wall Street track record, Smith admitted still experiences racism, particularly when he’s trying to appeal to investors.

“I still see it when I raise funds,” he told the New York Times last year. “I know that’s the reason certain limited partners don’t back us.”

Still, Smith persists, and it shows in his business. Word around the industry is Smith’s firm has never lost money on an investment, and according to the magnate, Vista’s returns “are better than Warren Buffett.”

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  • dallas

    Wow what a diatribe of nonsense. He married a white woman he is evil-really. There lots black women marrying white men are they evil. Nope! An African American woman is married to the prince of Liechtenstein, are there women in Vaduz who think he should have married one of them-you bet, but so what he didn’t like any of them he liked her! Get over it! Most of you are all mixed anyways even white Amarricsns are mixed! Now let’s focus on something important like how this man made his money, maybe you could learn something

  • RaiseTheBar

    “…But You’ve Probably Never Heard of Him”

    Of course NOT; there would be a Monumental Loss of Income (MONEY, $$$) made by the MEDIA, Gun/Bullet manufacturers/retailers, Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline if stories like this one, debunking the All Consuming LIE of the Dreaded, Violent, Dangerous Black Man, were to be Leading News.

  • Henry L Shelton

    That’s what happens black man get rich an marrys a white women,maybe his parent are of mix race

  • BlackHarvardMan

    The comments here are downright disgusting and reductive. You’re totally dismissing this man b/c of his wife’s race? a) a man of this stature is an asset to the black community simply by dint of his existence b) What man of any race, wealthy or poor doesn’t go for the Playboy Bunny?!? Let alone the Playboy Bunny vs. the angry sister?

    Tired of being called angry? Stop being so MAD all the damned time — then maybe a brother will give you a 2nd look. Hint: most successful brothers are actually LOOKING for a black partner. If we can’t find a woman of color with whom we mesh, then we will find someone with whom we do. No matter what color.

    Someone asks if he does anything to support communities of color or hires HBCU students but goes on a tirade not ever knowing if he does. And so what if he doesn’t — he went to Cornell then Columbia (but here’s a hint: Google “Project Realize” and look at the “our team” section.) What should matter most is if Mr. Smith’s financial prowess is something that we as a community can learn from. Full Stop. What he does in his private life is immaterial and fixating on it is just immature.