From September 14th to 18th, the city of Denver celebrated everything entrepreneurial during Denver Startup Week. It is the largest free event of its kind in the city, and for the first time ever, the program went virtual. The weeklong event showcased Denver’s global culture of innovation and the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city. Events throughout the week were organized by the community and included virtual video sessions about topics relevant to the current climate. Ultimately, Denver Startup Week celebrated great companies, innovation, ideas and people.
On Monday, September 14, 2020, the week kicked off with a keynote speech from Denver native and Founder, Chairman and CEO of investment firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith. Moderated by Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, the Fireside Chat keynote speech addressed important moments in Smith’s life, including his experience growing up in Denver and his impact on the 2019 Morehouse graduating class. The speaking engagement also addressed how Smith’s engineering experience influenced his current career and the importance of Denver in Vista’s success. It concluded with Smith recounting what keeps him hopeful and optimistic during trying times.
Denver Recognized for Being One of the Best Places for Businesses
Denver has been a haven for businesses and entrepreneurs like the ones celebrated during Denver Startup Week for decades now. In fact, based on a recent review from Forbes, Denver was recognized for being one of the best places for businesses. In the last two years, over 24 companies have relocated their headquarters or expanded their businesses in Denver, employing thousands of people and raising hundreds of millions of capital over the past few years. The energy and mining industries are now booming, and most recently, the technology and telecommunications industries have grown tremendously.
Smith’s Connection to Denver
Robert F. Smith was born and raised in Denver and is the 4th generation on his father’s side to do so. He attended Carson Elementary School and Gove Jr. High School and eventually graduated from Denver East High School in 1981. Denver is also home to several Vista Equity Partners-owned companies, including Xactly, who is a sponsor of Denver Startup Week 2020. Many of Vista’s companies have had growth and success in the years after being acquired. For example, in 2016, Vista acquired Ping Identity, a Denver security firm. Since the acquisition, the company has grown from 175 employees to over 600. At the time of the acquisition, Andre Durand, Founder and CEO of Ping, shared, “From the day Vista acquired us to today, we’ve beat our numbers, and this has made for a great mutual relationship. We’ve built trust with Vista and in return, Vista has supported all the initiatives we’ve asked for.”
However, Ping is not the only company in the Denver area that Vista has partnered with over the last few years. For example, in 2016, Vista acquired Granicus, and their number of employees grew companywide after being acquired. Vista also invested in TIBCO in 2014. Since the acquisition, TIBCO has made smart investments to advance their product offering and market reach and won numerous awards. In February of 2019, Four Winds Interactive (FWI) also announced a strategic investment with Vista. Since then, FWI has focused on strengthening its business. In fact, the year after the partnership, FWI acquired Smart Space as part of their development plan. “With Vista, we’ve made a lot of changes operationally that are great,” said FWI CEO David Levan, “We’ve changed a lot of things in our go-to-market operation. And, building the foundation for the company for the next phase.” Learn more about Robert F. Smith’s history.