My guest today is Robert Smith, the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. An engineer by training, Robert started Vista at the turn of the millennium and built it into one of the world's most successful software-focused investment firms. We discuss the white space left in enterprise software investing, the importance of capital cycles, and what he’s learned building an iconic investing franchise. Please enjoy my discussion with Robert Smith.
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[00:02:34] - [First question] - What the enterprise software market looks and feels like to him
[00:05:52] - Whether or not software is becoming a saturated market and what will drive demand over the coming decades
[00:09:42] - Bringing an engineering mindset to enterprise software investing and culture
[00:12:36] - A single change he made to a business that stands out most in memory
[00:14:33] - Qualities that are most critical in defining a good enterprise software company
[00:18:07] - How the profile of companies he’s bought has changed over the years
[00:20:33] - Categories of software he tends to gravitate towards
[00:23:56] - Evolving his model for considering what multiple to pay for a business and thinking about p/e growth multiples
[00:27:17] - Lessons learned about customer churn over his twenty two year career
[00:29:44] - Capital cycles and how much they truly impact the software world
[00:31:53] - What elements of building Vista have most appealed to him over the years
[00:34:31] - Changing their investment strategy as the world continues to change
[00:38:06] - The war for talent and what his senior team would debate most
[00:40:01] - Biggest mistakes Vista has made and what they taught him
[00:41:09] - What has him most insecure or paranoid about the platform he’s built
[00:43:10] - The advice he’d give on having good relationships with LPs
[00:44:57] - The largest risk he or Vista has ever intentionally taken
[00:46:15] - What he’s learned about having a winning negotiations and sales approach
[00:49:27] - Who he’d give all of his capital to outside of Vista
[00:50:06] - How he arrived at the themes he tends to be philanthropic towards
[00:53:08] - The work he does in the foster world
[00:54:49] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for him