ROBERT F. SMITH
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Back in 2016, African American billionaire Robert F. Smith, founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, made a big bet when he paid $1.8 billion for the cloud-service company, Marketo. Well, that bet has significantly paid off…because he just sold Marketo to Adobe Systems, Inc. for $4.75 billion, which has earned him a profit of just about $3 billion—the largest acquired profit from a single company in the last 20 years.
A former Goldman Sachs investment banker who was the first to focus on billion-dollar technology mergers and acquisitions, Smith ventured into his own equity firm called Vista Equity Partners in 2000 to invest exclusively in software companies.
Many have been skeptical about his idea, saying that at that time it was impossible to succeed in that field because target companies had no assets to lend against. Smith, however, continued with his business. Since then, people saw Vista becoming a very successful private equity firm and Smith becoming the wealthiest African American along the way.
In May 2016, Vista closed a deal to buy Marketo for $1.8 billion. It was a relatively richly priced acquisition, noting that Marketo, a marketing automation software company, was then failing to grow and was losing a lot of money. But under Smith’s leadership, Marketo’s revenue grew to over $100 million within only three years.
Adobe, a leading provider of graphics and video software and services, became very much interested in Marketo. Last month, Adobe announced that they will incorporate Marketo into its Adobe Experience Cloud platform.
The acquisition will enable Adobe to “offer an unrivaled set of solutions for delivering transformative customer experiences across industries and companies of all sizes,” according to a press release.
The recent acquisition is just one of the many deals made by Vista’s founder, chairman, and CEO Robert F. Smith. Moreover, the 61-year-old businessman was ranked by Forbes as the 226th richest person in America in 2017, 668th on Forbes 2016 list of world’s billionaires, with a net worth of $4.4 billion. He was also named by Forbes as one of the 100 greatest living business minds and was declared as the wealthiest African American in a 2018 cover story of Forbes.
(For more details about Robert F. Smith’s company, visit www.vistaequitypartners.com or his personal website at www.robertfsmith.org.)
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