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Robert Smith at a Morehouse College gala. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Vista Equity continues to work toward getting its house in order, following last Thursday's stunning admissions of personal tax fraud by founder and CEO Robert Smith.

Why it matters: Smith has settled with the Justice Department and the IRS, but the story isn't over yet.

Three updates:

  1. There has not yet been any resolution to the conflict between Smith and firm president Brian Sheth.
  2. Vista recently removed Sheth from the board of Datto, a data protection software company that last night raised nearly $600 million in its IPO (at an initial market cap of $4.25 billion). Multiple sources say Sheth is credited with selling the original buyout to Datto founder and former CEO Austin McChord, after the pair connected at a Morgan Stanley tech event. He had been listed on Datto's original IPO paperwork, filed on Sept. 29.
  3. Vista isn't sitting on its hands while all of this plays out. Axios has learned that the firm quietly agreed to buy a 50% stake in SmartBear, a Somerville, Mass.-based software development and testing company, for around $1.7 billion from Francisco Partners (which retains the other half).

The bottom line: The tension isn't just between two top execs at one of private equity's largest firms. It's also between the appearance of stability and the reality of volatility.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Nov 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Private equity dominated the 2020 election process

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity dominated Election Day. Not in terms of the winning candidates, but in terms of the election process itself.

Between the lines: The most-utilized election system and software companies are owned by U.S. private equity firms. Dominion Voting Systems is the best-known of these vendors, as it's become the subject of evidence-free conspiracy theories.

23 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former secretary of state John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.