July 4, 2023

Black Billionaire Robert Smith Doubles Investment As He Sells Software Maker for $4.6 Billion

Founder and CEO of market investment firm Vista Equity Partners Robert Smith has announced plans to sell Apptio – a company that helps connect technology investments to business outcomes – to IBM for $4.6 billion.

Having bought the software maker for $1.9 billion in 2019, the firm has now doubled its initial investment with a return of 142% on the initial payment to acquire the company.

In a separate statement, IBM revealed that it would use cash on hand to fund the deal, which should be complete in the second half of 2023.

“Our investment philosophy, value creation strategy, and industry expertise enable us to identify and partner with companies that have the potential for long-term success,” Smith said.

“We are proud of these shared accomplishments and look forward to seeing Apptio further evolve with IBM.

Who is Robert Smith?

Robert Smith is the wealthiest Black man in the United States; he passed Oprah Winfrey in 2018 as the richest Black American and is currently the world’s 150th wealthiest person.

He founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000 to invest in businesses that use tech to promote economic equity, ecological responsibility, and diversity and inclusion.  His company has made $18 billion made cashing out on its bets since November 2021, according to Business Insider.

With an estimated personal fortune of $12 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, Smith has given back to the Black community in many ways.

Last year he launched a grants program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) students, the Student Freedom Initiative.

The program is designed to provide paid internships to HBCUs students, addressing Black students’ disproportionate financial loan burden, often hindering their career progression.

He additionally famously paid off the student loan debt for Morehouse students in 2020 during a commencement speech at the college, and he most recently spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to cut race-based Affirmative Action in higher education.

Correction – July 7, 2023: Vista Equity Partners was founded in 2000, not 2020.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.