Vista’s Robert Smith says there are more opportunities in private markets than public right now


Robert Smith, the billionaire chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, said Wednesday that there’s a marked disparity in investment opportunities between the public and private markets.

Smith, who spoke with CNBC’s David Faber from the Delivering Alpha conference, said that his firm continues to look at high-growth investments in enterprise software versus more mature areas of technology that the public markets still emphasize.

“There’s actually a bit of dislocation of opportunity because 98% of enterprise software companies are private,” Smith said. 

“One of the keys is understanding what businesses are the right businesses to invest in as a private equity firm,” he added. “From our perspective, it’s really interesting: The public markets continue to focus on what we call hardware and consumer technology.”

Vista, now 20 years old, has carved out a niche for itself on Wall Street by investing in young software companies and restructuring them according to a strict list of standards to generate more profit and revenues.

Oftentimes Vista works with a fledgling software companies on its efficiency until it’s “mature,” and is ready to hit the public markets through an initial public offering.

And with advancing computing technology making its way around the world, Smith said the potential for even more compelling investments is accelerating.

Even beyond a comparison to the public markets, Smith said he’s seeing a deluge of enterprise software opportunities right now.

“In our sector, enterprise software, we continue to see companies with very strong revenue growth. If they’re run well, and with our work, they’re actually accelerating in this time period,” he said. “And the fact is that there is just a massive demand for digitization globally.”

“There has also been a distribution of computing power over the last 20 years, there’s actually a large number of software companies that are actually getting to a state of maturity,” he added.

The Delivering Alpha conference is presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor.



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