Vista Equity Partners was founded in 2000 by Robert F. Smith and Brian Sheth. Prior to founding Vista Equity, Smith was the co-head of the enterprise systems and storage sector for Goldman Sachs' investment banking division. Smith also served as the business unit manager for Goldman’s mergers and acquisitions group. Brian Sheth also worked in Mergers and Acquisitions at Goldman, Sachs & Co. The two were later joined by Jamie Ford, also from mergers and acquisitions at Goldman, as the firm's COO. By 2013, the firm listed 11 principals.
In May 2013 Vista announced it would acquire Websense (public since 2000) for an estimated $906 million. The deal closed June 25 for about $1 billion. In the same month, Vista acquired Boston-based recruitment firm Bullhorn, Inc. for a reported price of several hundred million dollars. In July 2013 New Jersey agreed to commit $100 million to a Vista fund, three months after Christine Pastore resigned from that state's investment program to become vice president of investor relations. In September 2013 a new round of funding and a bid of over $1 billion was announced for Active Network, Inc, which runs event registration web sites. Vista has since acquired Lanyon, Inc., a software company based out Dallas, TX, with whom they merged a portion of Active Network's Business Solutions Group (BSG).