Philanthropist, engineer and technologist Robert F. Smith is a long-standing proponent of the World Economic Forum. Recognized for his industry leadership and commitment to the community, Smith has been invited to speak at a variety of sessions and interviews at the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland over the years. An attendee of the 2020 Annual Meeting, Smith expressed in an interview with Bloomberg the challenges he foresees the next generation of workers will face, and his hopes to use the Fund II Foundation to someday completely fund the education for STEM students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While at the 2019 Annual Meeting, Smith spoke with CNBC on how new technological innovations are increasing productivity in the modern workplace. He offered insights on how new technology can be used to accelerate and grow businesses and explained how economists could factor technological advancements into their predictions of business growth. He gave predictions for how the economy would advance throughout the year with regards to software and technology and discussed how his predictions might play out in economies around the world.
Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm launched in 2000. Vista partners with enterprise software, data and technology companies to scale their businesses for long-term growth and success. Prior to starting Vista, Smith began his career at Good Year Tire and Rubber, followed by Kraft General Foods and later Goldman Sachs.
An avid philanthropist, Smith supports many educational and technology-focused causes. In 2019, he donated $34 million to Morehouse College graduates and to create the Student Success Program, which paid off the student debt for all of Morehouse’s 2019 graduates, along with any loans taken out for those graduates by their family members. In 2016, Smith personally contributed $30 million to Cornell University’s College of Engineering and to fund Tech Scholars for African Americans and women. Smith the first African American to sign the Giving Pledge, and is a trustee of the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco. He is also a founding partner of the REFORM Alliance and was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2019.