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Who Is Robert F. Smith? Before He Was Wiping Out Morehouse College Student Debt, He Was Patenting Coffee Brewing At Kraft.


The billionaire technology investor who promised to pay off hundreds of Morehouse College graduates’ student loans has ties to Chicago — including patenting a coffee brewing method for the company formerly known as Kraft General Foods.

Robert F. Smith is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data and technology companies. On Sunday, he announced to about 400 graduates at the all-male, historically black college in Atlanta that he would pay an estimated $40 million to wipe out their loans.

Forbes estimates Smith’s net worth to be about $5 billion, and Vista has more than $46 billion in assets. He’s got ties to Chicago too: He knows about brewing coffee.

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