Billionaire Robert F. Smith made waves Sunday after giving a generous donation to recent Morehouse College graduates. During his Sunday morning commencement speech at the prestigious men's HBCU, the wealthy businessman announced that he would create a fund worth $40 million to pay off student loan debt.
1. He comes from humble beginnings.
Robert F. Smith was born on December 1, 1962, in Denver, Colorado, to educators Dr. William Robert Smith and Dr. Sylvia Myma Smith. Upon signing The Giving Pledge in 2017, Smith said the following about how his parents, and grandparents, were vital to his success according to Inside Philanthropy:
“I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know… We will only grasp the staggering potential of our time if we create onramps that empower ALL people to participate, regardless of background, country of origin, religious practice, gender, or color of skin.”
2. He's worth billions.
Robert F. Smith has a net worth of $4.4 billion reports Vista Equity Partners. Most of his wealth comes from Vista Equity Partners, the private equity and venture capital firm he founded in 2000.
3. He's an Alpha.
Smith is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He crossed into the organization in 1982 as an undergrad at Cornell University. He earned a bachelors of science degree in chemical engineering before receiving his MBA from Columbia Business School, graduating with honors.
4. He's known to flip a bag or five.
Smith became one of the 400 richest people in the country by making sound and lucrative business moves. In the last five years alone, Vista Equity bought Tysons Corner as well as Virginia-based cloud management firm Cvent Inc. in 2016. The sale reportedly went for $1.65 billion. In September 2015, Vista bought Solera Holdings for $6.5 billion. Additionally, according to Forbes, Smith's company sold Marketo to Adobe, for $4.7 billion. The sale was finalized last year. Marketo was originally purchased for $1.8 billion in 2016.
5. He has a history of philanthropy.
With his great fortune, Smith has committed large sums to great causes. He became the largest private donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. after donating $20 million according to Smithsonian Institution. Smith was also the only Black business person to sign "The Giving Pledge," created by Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as Warren Buffett. Through the pledge, wealthy individuals promise to more than one-half of their wealth to good causes around the world.