ROBERT F. SMITH
OFF THE WALL
Name: Robert F. Smith
Education: B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell; MBA from Columbia Business School
Residence: Marin County, California
Marin County, all the time. Tuscany early summer and fall. The Caribbean in spring when the fishing is best and the weather perfect.
Currently, Managing Partner of Vista Equity Partners LLC, managing over $1.1billion in private equity investments for family trusts; Mergers & Acquisitions for Goldman, Sachs & Co.; started career at age 17 with Bell Laboratories; principal inventor on two U.S. and European patents; husband, father of three; avid (I think world class) fly fisherman and car enthusiast.
Dream Job: The one I currently have, no question. Perhaps, one day, Secretary of State? I go for style and function above all else. I always feel stylish in any of my Franck Mueller watches or in my Ferrari.
I go for style and function above all else. I always feel stylish in any of my Franck Mueller watches or in my Ferrari.
Can it be said that one is overpaid?
So long as compensation accurately reflects value provided, one cannot be said to be overpaid. What I find troubling is often the misalignment of value provided, or when value created doesn’t match up with the compensation. On one end of the spectrum we entrust the education of our next generation of leaders to often underpaid educators, but yet I too often hear of CEOs who don’t provide returns to shareholders but take a tremendous amount of cream off the top. This is not to say that all teachers should be paid well. We need to fix that system as well; less than adequate teachers should not be allowed to teach our children. Pay should be used as an incentive to attract our best and brightest to the system of education as instructors and sources of inspiration. Compensation absolutely should be decided in terms of value provided, and adjustments made accordingly and continuously.
What was J.P. Morgan’s legacy as a philanthropist and why is this kind of person a rarity in today’s financial arena?
I think J.P. Morgan lived the adage that a lot is expected from those who have the means. He did it so visibly that he set a standard which encourages others from all stations in life to give. That’s what’s really important, : that those who can, do. But it also means that people’s philanthropic efforts today can be much more personal, and so not as visible, but extremely effective to a broader society. There’s a woman in a disadvantaged neighborhood in Oakland, for example, who promised an entire kindergarten class that if they stayed in school, she would send them to college — and she did it. The Last Mile Foundation golf tournament I support annually provides college-bound teenagers with the funds that make the difference between them going to college or not.
What all this means is that philanthropy is alive and well today. It’s just more in keeping with the individual perspective which characterizes modern and post-modern times, as opposed to the grand sweeping gestures that were standard and expected in Morgan’s times. Think globally but, absolutely, act locally; most of all, do something!
What are the limitations of wealth, if any?
You can use wealth to help identify your passions or your life’s work and to pursue them, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee living your best and highest life.
What is your favorite way of spending money on lifestyle?
The complete education of my children, a great big comfortable bed, excellent wine in inspiring places, fly fishing and enjoying the company of my family and friends.
What are your favorite hangouts?
Right now they include bone fishing in the Turks and Caicos, steelhead fishing in the Trinity Alps, fishing for rainbow trout in Aspen and lying on the carpet at the house with my kids.
Still searching, but I know fly fishing, dancing and well-engineered cars are a part of it!!!
Wassily Kandisky, no question!
What would you wear to the Oscars?
I don’t think anyone pays much attention to what men wear to the Oscars. I would go as I would to any formal event, dressed in one of my custom-made tuxedoes, and allow my wife to shine.
Is sartorial appearance equally as important as one’s character or substance?
It would be a shame even to compare them.
Favorite fashion designer ?
I don’t really follow fashion. I go for style and function above all else. From my perspective, fashion can only be incidental to functional style. I always feel stylish in any of my Franck Mueller watches or in my Ferrari.
If you could wear any outfit to work, what would it be and why?
I would wear what I usually wear: a silk mock turtleneck under one of my custom-made suits as that makes me feel both comfortable and stylish. However, I would bring along a pair of waders and my fly fishing rod…’cause ya never know!