headshot of Robert Smith, Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners and text that says "The Risks and Opportunities in Today's Digital World"

Lunches with Legends: Robert Smith on Digital Risks and Opportunities


In this episode of our Lunches with Legends series, Robert Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners explains how he has employed "elegant solutions to complex problems" allowing him to capitalize on the inherent advantages of enterprise software.

From humble beginnings to becoming one of the top 100 most influential people of 2020, Robert Smith has been described as one of the savviest investors in America today. Robert has used his deep-seated passion for 'figuring things out' to create exponential success and growth in the enterprise software space. His transformative approach to business has facilitated the growth and success of one of the largest private equity firms in the world.

The greatest joys one can have is frankly to liberate the human spirit, and I don't think there's anything more liberating than enabling somebody to achieve their goal and success with a fair and equitable system for accessing capital, returning that capital, and then improving the life station of their family. That's what I focus on, and I have the great privilege and honor to do that.

At its core, enterprise software represents the applications and technologies that companies use across the entire organization to support their operational and strategic initiatives. What was the key to Robert's success in this industry? Having the ability to eliminate waste from the system and put that energy into building new products, and accelerating top and bottom-line growth. When efficiencies are created throughout the system, teams have the capacity to develop new products, create new opportunities and ultimately return more to shareholders.

Enterprise software is still the most productive tool that's been introduced into our business economy in the past fifty years, and likely will be for the next fifty.
  1. The power of a developer's creative mind. He explains how technology facilitates the unleashing of creativity as cloud-based computing provides unlimited central processing capacity to amplify the power of the human mind. Without this amplification, development is limited by the capital available to build out capacity, which inhibits creative dynamics.
  2. Standardization has occurred and will continue to occur within industries. The desire for convenience creates this phenomenon. When we all understand systems, this gives us the ability to communicate across what would otherwise be barriers in our environments. What starts as many options will eventually converge into one superior product.
  3. Empower your management team to fulfill the vision. Your team needs to be effective: focus on ensuring that the team has the knowledge and information to be the best at what they do. Create a collaborative and dynamic environment where your team knows what is on the horizon and empower them to successfully execute the plan.

So, what can we expect next? Blockchain. Although its development will ebb and flow, blockchain will eventually 'settle in' and become the fabric that will define all industries. "If you are not participating in that fabric, you will not be in that industry." The economic construct of how this will work is still to be determined - and will likely be different for each industry.

Robert believes we can expect to see continued changes in how industries and communities use technology to interact. The dynamics around how we verify and share information will continue to evolve. We will continue to eliminate waste in how we work, and this will permeate how we do business. We will find a new equilibrium and will be more holistic in our thinking. This will undoubtedly change how we live, how we treat our planet, and how business fits in to sustainable living. Tremendous opportunities remain to employ elegant solutions to complex problems.

Head to our YouTube channel to watch the full recording!