Robert F. Smith Founder, Chairman and CEO Vista Equity Partners, and David Steward, who is the founder and chairman of IT provider World Wide Technology, are on the Forbes List Of The 400 Richest Americans

Robert F. Smith Founder, Chairman and CEO  Vista Equity Partners, and David Steward, who is the founder and chairman of IT provider World Wide Technology, are on the Forbes List Of The 400 Richest Americans

Here are the private equity tycoons on the 2021 Forbes 400 list, and Robert F. Smith ranks 5th on the List.

(Net worths are as of September 3, 2021)

1. Stephen Schwarzman

Forbes 400 Rank: #19

Net Worth: $37.4 billion

2020 Net Worth: $19.1 billion

2. Leon Black

Forbes 400 Rank: #78

Net Worth: $9.9 billion

2020 Net Worth: $8.7 billion

3. George Roberts

Forbes 400 Rank: #88

Net Worth: $9 billion

2020 Net Worth: $6.6 billion

4. Henry Kravis

Forbes 400 Rank: #94

Net Worth: $8.5 billion

2020 Net Worth: $6.4 billion

5. Robert F. Smith

Forbes 400 Rank: #141

Net Worth: $6.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $5.2 billion

5. Michael Kim

Forbes 400 Rank: #141

Net Worth: $6.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: N/A (New)

7. Orlando Bravo

Forbes 400 Rank: #158

Net Worth: $6.3 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.7 billion

8. Sam Zell

Forbes 400 Rank: #172

Net Worth: $6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4.7 billion

9. Tom Gores

Forbes 400 Rank: #176

Net Worth: $5.9 billion

2020 Net Worth: $5.7 billion

10. Joshua Harris

Forbes 400 Rank: #188

Net Worth: $5.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $5.1 billion

11. Scott Shleifer

Forbes 400 Rank: #212

Net Worth: $5 billion

2020 Net Worth: N/A (New)

12. Marc Rowan

Forbes 400 Rank: #229

Net Worth: $4.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

13. Daniel D’Aniello

Forbes 400 Rank: #240

Net Worth: $4.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.4 billion

13. Sami Mnaymneh

Forbes 400 Rank: #240

Net Worth: $4.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

13. Tony Tamer

Forbes 400 Rank: #240

Net Worth: $4.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

16. David Bonderman

Forbes 400 Rank: #247

Net Worth: $4.5 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

16. Barry Sternlicht

Forbes 400 Rank: # 247

Net Worth: $4.5 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.2 billion

18. David Rubenstein

Forbes 400 Rank: #261

Net Worth: $4.3 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.4 billion

19. William Conway Jr

Forbes 400 Rank: #281

Net Worth: $4 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3 billion

Forbes Presented Their List Of The 400 Richest Americans — And Two Black Men Made The List

Forbes has dropped its annual list of 400 Richest Americans.

For the fourth year in a row, Jeff Bezos — the founder of Amazon — was No. 1 on the list. According to the outlet, he’s worth $201 billion, which is a staggering $22 billion more than where he was last year on the list. Right behind Bezos is America’s favorite problematic dude-bro, Elon Musk, who is worth a little over $190 billion. Mark Zuckerberg, the man behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp comes in at No. 3 with just under $135 billion in net worth. Bill Gates is No. 4 on the Forbes Richest Americans list, with a slightly lower net worth than Zuckerberg ($134 billion). And rounding out the top five is Larry Page, who recently stepped down as the CEO of Google but still remains a controlling shareholder and board member — and who has a $123 billion net worth.

Yet, despite the diversity of the richest Americans on the Forbes list in nearly every other way, one group remains largely unrepresented on the list: Black professionals. Specifically, zero Black women made the list of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans, and only two Black men made the list.

Let’s take a look at the two Black men who made the list, and how they made their fortunes.

141. Robert F. Smith


He’s a philanthropist, a billionaire, and a controversial figure. But Robert F. Smith is one of two Black men who made the list of Forbes 400 Richest Americans. He founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000. For the past 20-plus years, he’s exclusively invested in software companies. According to Forbes, he comes in at No. 141 on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list, with a net worth of $6.7 billion.


182. David Steward

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David Steward is the second Black man on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list — and he actually shares his 182nd ranking with five other people (Peter Gassner, Min Kao, Henry Nicholas III, Gary Rollins, and Fred Smith of FedEx). As the founder and chairman of IT provider World Wide Technology, David Steward has a net worth of $5.8 billion, according to Forbes.


Black In Business: Celebrating The Legacy Of Black Entrepreneurship

African-Americans have played a profound role in shaping the U.S. business landscape. Technological innovations like the traffic light, automatic elevator doors and even caller ID all sprung from the minds of creative black luminaries.

To honor their business achievements this Black History Month, Forbes spoke to a number of founders, investors, activists, celebrities and experts on the black diaspora. What emerged from these conversation was a rich, complex portrait of black entrepreneurship, one that highlights the black community’s tremendous creativity, as well as a resilience that was born, in part, out of hardship and necessity.

Historically, black-owned companies, like Madam C.J. Walker’s hair-care line and the businesses that formed Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black Wall Street, were developed in direct response to racial discrimination. “These segregation patterns then created market opportunities for black entrepreneurs to step in, make money and meet the demands of the black community,” says Mehrsa Baradaran, author of The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. With few work opportunities and high job instability, many black pioneers took matters into their own hands, building small enterprises that served and employed fellow African-Americans.

The black community’s long history of entrepreneurship is marked by ebbs and flows. The Reconstruction era, the period after the Civil War, saw a sharp rise in the number of black-owned businesses as the country attempted to right some of the inequities of slavery. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the resurgence of Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation, coupled with the Great Depression, led to the decline of black entrepreneurship. “Black businesses were targeted and we saw a rollback in many of the advancements that were made previously,” says Tiffiany Howard, a small business and entrepreneurship fellow at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

The rate of black business creation continued to rise and fall throughout the 20th and 21st century, increasing in the ’90s, dipping during the 2008 recession and rising again post-recession. In recent years, the number of black-owned businesses has risen dramatically, with black women fueling much of that growth. In 2003, Oprah Winfrey, arguably the most notable black female entrepreneur, became the first black American billionaire. And in just the last five years, four other African-Americans have reached the billionaire echelon.

But even with this forward momentum, black entrepreneurs still face a number of challenges: primarily, a lack of access to capital, says Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chambers. “We have the acumen, the creativity, the knowledge and even the manpower. But without access to capital, our ideas come to a standstill, are stolen or are manipulated.” 

Many of the black 2020 30 Under 30 listmakers echo a similar sentiment in candid video interviews with Forbes, but they also note the black community’s collective ability to persevere against all odds. And in an effort to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color, a number of corporations and wealthy black business leaders have created funds to invest in minority-owned companies. Real estate tycoon Don Peebles announced a $500 million fund for emerging minority and female developers in June 2019, and banks like JPMorgan and Citigroup have launched initiatives and investment funds to support underrepresented entrepreneurs. 

Still, much remains to be done both in the private and public sectors. “In order for there to be a great America, there must be a great black America,” Busby says. “And in order for there to be a great black America, you must have great black businesses and a great black economy.”

If history is any indication, black entrepreneurship will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years—an economic boon for Americans of all colors.

Celebrating The Legacy Of Black Entrepreneurship & Black-Owned Family Businesses

1. “Free Frank” (Frank McWorter)
An American slave who eventually bought his freedom, Free Frank became a saltpeter manufacturer and businessman. He experienced significant success during the War of 1812 when saltpeter was in high demand. Because of his success, he was able to buy the freedom of 16 members of his family – with many more even after his death (his heirs used his inheritance to free more relatives). Free Frank is also known to be the first African-American to found a town in the United States; in 1836, he founded the town of New Philadelphia in Illinois.2. Frederick Patterson & Charles Richard Patterson
Frederick Patterson was the first African-American to manufacture cars. His father, Charles Richard Patterson, cofounded the carriage business, C.R. Patterson & Son Company and eventually bought out his 20-year partner, J.P. Lowe (a white man). After his father’s death, Frederick Patterson developed the Patterson-Greenfield car and was in direct competition with Henry Ford’s Model T. He later converted his business to the Greenfield Bus Body Company.3. Annie MaloneOne of America’s first and most prominent Black businesswomen, Malone founded and developed Poro College, a commercial and educational business focused on cosmetics for Black women. Born to former slaves, Malone would later develop a chemical that could straighten Black women’s hair without causing damage to the hair or scalp. Poro College as an institution of learning, was established as a way to teach people about Black cosmetology. Through the school and the business, Malone created jobs for 75,000 women around the world. She is recorded as the first Black female millionaire in the United States, with a reported $14 million in assets in 1920 ($167 million by today’s standards).4. Johnson Publishing Company
John Johnson was the founder of Johnson Publishing Company, which publishes both Ebony and Jet magazines. One of his first ventures, The Negro Digest, aimed to cover positive stories about the African-American community, mimicking the style of the Reader’s Digest. Johnson was unable to find any backers—Black or white so in order to fund the publication he used a $500 loan that was borrowed against his mother’s furniture. The company is now run by his daughter Linda.5. Mahogany Books
In 2007, Derrick and Ramunda Young launched Mahogany Books, an online-only retailer that specializes in books “written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora.” The husband-and-wife duo opened the doors of their brick-and-mortar store in 2017 in Anacostia, a historically African-American neighborhood in Southeast Washington, D.C.
6. Atlanta Life
Atlanta Life founder, Alonzo Herndon was born into slavery and got his first break in business by owning and running several barbershops in Atlanta before starting up an insurance firm. He started Atlanta Life in 1905 and since then Atlanta Life has expanded into asset management and is still a Black-owned business today. 
7. Peotona Capital
South African investment company Peotona Capital was founded in 2005 by four women—three Black, one white—and now runs a successful portfolio of investments. What’s unique about Peotona Capital is that the company invests in the development of South Africa, both through partnerships with the firms it invests in and through its own mentorship program, which currently provides individual mentoring and support to 66 young Black professionals.
8. Millennium Steel Service
Indiana-based Millennium Steel Service was founded in 2001 by husband-and-wife Henry and Andrea Jackson. Henry unfortunately passed away in 2007, but Andrea continues to run both Millennium Steel Service and in 2014 she opened Millennium Steel of Texas (MST) in San Antonio, TX.
While in no way an exhaustive list, we hope you’ll find some inspiration from these business-owners and entrepreneurs who portray the power of Black families and generations working together to build a legacy.

#141 Robert F. Smith

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as of 10/13/21

2021 Forbes 400 NET WORTH

as of 10/4/21
  • Robert F. Smith founded private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2000. It focuses exclusively on investing in software companies.
  • With over $50 billion in assets, Vista is one of the best-performing private equity firms, posting annualized returns of 22% since inception.
  • In October 2020, Smith entered into an agreement with the DOJ and IRS, agreeing to pay $139 million for his role in a tax evasion scheme.
  • As a college student, Smith secured an internship at Bell Labs after calling the company every week for five months.
  • An engineer by training, he worked at Kraft Foods and Goodyear Tire before getting his MBA at Columbia University.
  • During a commencement speech, Smith vowed to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.
On forbes lists
Source of Wealthprivate equity, Self Made
ResidenceAustin, Texas
CitizenshipUnited States
Marital StatusMarried
EducationMaster of Business Administration, Columbia University; Bachelor of Arts/Science, Cornell University

Did you know

Smith is the first African-American to sign the Giving Pledge, a commitment to contribute the majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

Net worth over time

Forbes 400
October 2018

We are only bound by the limits of our own conviction. We can transcend the script of a pre-defined story, and pave the way for the future that we design. We just need to tap that power, that conviction, that determination within us.

Robert F. Smith

Robert F. Smith (investor)

Robert Smith
Robert F. Smith, 2018 (crop).jpg
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Robert Frederick Smith

December 1, 1962 (age 58)

Education Cornell University (BS)
Columbia University (MBA)
Occupation Businessman
Title Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners
Suzanne McFayden

(m. 1988; div. 2014)

(m. 2015)

Children 7

Robert Frederick Smith (born December 1, 1962) is an American businessman, philanthropist, chemical engineer, and investor. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.


Robert F. Smith

Founder, Chairman and CEO

Vista Equity Partners, Austin

Robert F. Smith, Vista Equity Partners
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Robert F. Smith is Vista’s Founder, Chairman and CEO. He directs Vista’s investment strategy and decisions, governance and investor relations. Mr. Smith sits on the Investment Committees for Vista’s Flagship, Foundation, Endeavor and Perennial Funds and serves as a member of Vista’s Executive Committee, the firm’s governing and decision-making body for matters affecting its overall management and strategic direction, and Private Equity Management Committee, the firm’s decision-making body for matters affecting Vista’s overall private equity platform. Vista currently manages equity assets under management of over $81 billion and oversees a portfolio of more than 70 enterprise software, data and technology-enabled companies that employ over 75,000 people worldwide. Since Vista’s inception, Mr. Smith has supervised over 520 completed transactions representing more than $199 billion in aggregate transaction value.

Early Life and Career

Born in Denver, Colorado, to two parents with Doctor of Education (EdD) degrees, Mr. Smith trained as an engineer at Cornell University, earning his B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1985. In 2016, Cornell University honored Mr. Smith’s leadership by renaming the school he graduated from: Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. While earning his MBA from Columbia Business School with honors, he served as President of the Black Business Students’ Association and President of the Japan Business Association. After graduation, he worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber, followed by Kraft General Foods, where he obtained two United States and two European patents for coffee filtration systems.

Upon receiving his MBA in 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking, first in New York City and then in Silicon Valley. As Co‐Head of Enterprise Systems and Storage, he executed and advised on over $50 billion in merger and acquisition activity with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, eBay and Yahoo. He was the first person at Goldman’s San Francisco office to focus solely on mergers and acquisitions of technology and software companies.

In 2000, Mr. Smith founded Vista Equity Partners to invest in businesses that develop and use technology, software and data to promote economic equity, ecological responsibility and diversity and inclusion for the prosperity of all. Vista achieves its mission of creating opportunity through the power of technology by using a variety of private equity, permanent capital, credit and public equity investment strategies.

As one of the top experts on investing in the software and technology industry in the world, Mr. Smith has been invited to speak about finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and related topics at a variety of venues, including the World Economic Forum and The Milken Institute, among others. He has also appeared in numerous interviews for television, written publications, podcasts and other media.

Philanthropy and Recognitions

Mr. Smith is the founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation. Started in 2014, the Foundation provides grants to fund efforts that conserve African American experiences and culture for future generations, rectify human rights abuses, promote music education for young people, protect the environment through advocacy and awareness of the benefits of the outdoors, and uphold vital American values such as empowerment, innovation and security for all. Mr. Smith has been a leading voice advocating for companies to take diverse internship candidates in STEM fields. In 2019, under Mr. Smith’s leadership, Fund II Foundation launched InternX, a platform to match leading companies with diverse internship candidates. Vista runs its own internship offering to boost diversity, the Vista Frontier Fellows Program.

In 2016, Mr. Smith and the Fund II Foundation received the Frederick D. Patterson Award, the highest recognition awarded by the UNCF, an organization that focuses on increasing access to higher education for underrepresented students. In 2019, Mr. Smith received the UNCF President’s Award, and at the award ceremony, he announced a matching gift of all funds raised during the gala event.

Also, in 2016, Mr. Smith announced a personal contribution of $20 million to Cornell University’s College of Engineering, plus another $10 million in scholarships for African Americans and women pursuing technology-related degrees.

Mr. Smith continues to serve his alma mater as a Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council.

Throughout all of his successes, Mr. Smith has demonstrated the importance of giving back. In 2017, Mr. Smith signed the Giving Pledge and was the first African American to do so. In his pledge, Mr. Smith committed to investing half of his net worth during his lifetime “to causes that support equality of opportunity for African Americans, as well as causes that cultivate ecological protection to ensure a livable planet for future generations.” With a place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr. Smith’s efforts to give back continue to have a large impact on the organizations and charities he supports. TIME magazine recognized Mr. Smith as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020, noting his contributions to education for underrepresented students of color, minority-owned small businesses and lower-income communities.

Mr. Smith continues to gain recognition for his accomplishments and philanthropic endeavors. In the same year he signed the Giving Pledge, Smith was also named one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds by Forbes. In 2019, Mr. Smith received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. The medal citation by the award committee cites his contributions as a philanthropist and dedication to educational programs that create opportunities for current and future generations.

Also, in 2019, Mr. Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College and made headlines by announcing that he would cover the student loan debt of nearly 400 students in the graduating class in a commencement speech. In May 2019, he was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and in December 2019, he was included on Bloomberg’s list of the 50 people who defined the year.

In 2020, Mr. Smith received Cornell Engineering’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for his philanthropic work and dedication to inclusion and diversity in the technology industry.

Mr. Smith’s business achievements and global philanthropic works have received recognition from numerous other entities. This includes Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Award, the International Medical Corps’ Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Morehouse Candle Award in Business and Philanthropy, Ebony’s first John H. Johnson Award, the Jackie Robinson Foundation ROBIE Achievement in Industry Award, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Chair’s Award, the Reginald F. Lewis Achievement Award, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Robert Toigo Foundation, the Ripple of Hope Award from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Investment Companies, the Pierre Toussaint Award from the Archdiocese of New York, the Columbia University BBSA Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Ron Brown Scholar Program American Journey Award, among others.

He is a major donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, at which he has established the Robert F. Smith Internship Program.

He is also the Chairman of Carnegie Hall and board member of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. He serves on the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School and as a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco.

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B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Cornell University
MBA, Concentration in Finance and Marketing, Columbia Business School



#182 David Steward

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as of 10/13

2021 Forbes 400 NET WORTH

as of 10/4/21
  • David Steward is the founder and chairman of IT provider World Wide Technology.
  • In the early days, Steward sometimes went without a paycheck and once watched his car get repossessed from the office parking lot.
  • Today he is majority owner of the nearly $12 billion (sales) company, whose customers include Citi, Verizon and the federal government.
  • He grew up in the segregated South with seven siblings; his father worked as a mechanic, janitor and trash collector.
  • Steward donated $1.3 million to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2018 to create the David and Thelma Steward Institute for Jazz Studies.
On forbes lists
Source of WealthIT provider, Self Made
ResidenceSt. Louis, Missouri
CitizenshipUnited States
Marital StatusMarried
EducationBachelor of Arts/Science, Central Missouri State University

Did you know

Steward’s daughter was a producer of the 2016 movie Manchester by the Sea.

Net worth over time

Forbes 400
October 2018

David Steward

David Steward
Born 1951 (age 69–70)

Education Central Missouri State University
Known for Chairman and founder of World Wide Technology
Board member of Barnes-Jewish Hospital
Centene Corporation
Webster University[1]
University of Missouri[2]
Spouse(s) Thelma
Children 2; including Kimberly

David L. Steward (born 1951) is an American businessman. He is chairman and founder of World Wide Technology, one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in America.

According to Forbes, in 2019 Steward was one of 13 black billionaires worldwide. He was ranked 239th on the Forbes 400 list of American billionaires in 2019.


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