Robert Smith, the richest Black man in America, is the next guest on ‘Masters of the Game’

OPINION: You may remember businessman and philanthropist Robert Smith for paying off the student debt of an entire graduating class at Morehouse in 2019.


Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I have wanted to interview Robert Smith for a long precisely because he’s the richest Black man in America. That’s a stunning achievement. According to Forbes, he’s worth over $9 Billion. He’s won the game of capitalism — and spent a lot of time giving money away. He’s a philanthropic leader who once spoke at Morehouse in 2019 and then paid off the academic debt of everyone in the graduating class. He combines brilliance in science, savvy in the world of finance, and interpersonal skills to make lots of people want to work with him.

I met Smith on the set of “Masters of the Game” in Manhattan and was immediately struck by his charisma. He’s brotherly, he’s avuncular, he’s warm and welcoming. You can see why so many people want to be around him. The interview premieres on Saturday at noon on TheGrio Cable Network.

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Smith grew up in Denver and was an engineering prodigy. As a teenager, he developed a critical new part for semiconductors. In college, at Cornell, he won an award for excellence in chemical engineering. He got an MBA from Columbia and landed at the iconic Goldman Sachs. He ended up convincing Goldman Sachs to take a chance on the tech world at a time when the tech world was just beginning to explode. That helped him become wealthy. Then he left Goldman to found his own venture capital firm, Vista Equity Partners, which became one of the leaders in Silicon Valley venture funding. 

Smith’s Vista now has over $100 billion in assets under management

We all think about money but it’s complicated, emotional,  sometimes exciting and sometimes scary. I wanted to know what Smith’s emotional relationship with money has been throughout his life. I wanted to talk about what he did interpersonally to help him succeed in the lily-white world of finance. I wanted to see if he takes pride in being the richest Black man in America. Does that matter to him?

If you care about money, this is an important interview — you might learn how to make your own million. 

Watch Robert Smith’s “Masters of the Game” interview at 12 p.m. ET Saturday on TheGrio Cable Network.


Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at