• Features
  • Updated: March 19, 2021

Meet The Richest Black Man In The U.S. Robert F. Smith

Contrary to recent reports that Kanye West is the richest black man in the United States, that title actually belongs to American businessman and philanthropist Robert F. Smith.

Born Robert Frederick Smith on December 1, 1962, he is the founder, Chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.

Smith is ranked 367 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $7.05 billion. According to Black Enterprise Magazine, he is credited with consistently generating a 30 percent rate of return for his investors from his company's inception to 2020.

Bloomberg's Billionaires IndexBloomberg's Billionaires Index

He grew up in a predominantly African-American, middle-class neighbourhood in Denver, Colorado. His parents were both school teachers.

When Smith was an infant, his mother took him to the venue where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech.

He earned a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 1985 and subsequently got his Master's of Business Administration from Columbia University, with concentrations in Finance and Marketing.

Robert F. SmithRobert F. Smith

From 1994 to 200, Smith worked for Goldman Sachs in technology investment banking, first in New York, then in Silicon Valley. He advised on mergers and acquisition deals with companies like Apple and Microsoft

READ ALSO: 'Kanye Not The Richest Black Man In America' — Forbes

In 2000, he established Vista Equity Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm of which he is the principal founder, chairman, and chief executive. As of 2019, Visa Equity Partners had closed more than $46 billion of funding.

In 2018, Smith became the largest individual donor at the City Hope of Gala (which funds prostate cancer treatment and breast cancer research for black men and women. 

Smith and his wifeSmith and his wife

In October 2019, he was honoured with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy (given to individuals who have donated private wealth to the public.

He is married with three children and owns homes in Austin, Texas, Malibu, California, New York City, Denver, and Florida. 

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