Connect with us


Billion-dollar exits made Utah much richer last year



Utah – When Utah billionaire Ryan Smith bought the Utah Jazz for $1.6 billion several months ago, the transaction ended the 35-year reign of the Miller family’s ownership of the professional basketball team.

On the surface, it looks like another billion dollar transaction. But Smith’s big outlay underscores a dynamic shift that’s occurring throughout Utah. He’s part of a new generation of young tech wealth in the state, and the Miller family has long been billion dollar royalty.

“It’s a changing of the guard,” says David Stringfellow, chief economist for the Utah State Auditor. “There are new people in the mix. What will they do with all this wealth?”

Utahns are getting rich

Smith made his fortunes when he, his brother, and father sold their Provo tech company Qualtrics to SAP for $8 billion cash in 2018. Since then, Utah entrepreneurs have experienced a historic number of billion-dollar exits or IPOs. In just 2020 alone, Utah saw more than $30 billion in exits, mergers, acquisitions, or a mix, including:

·  Simplus, which sold for $250 million

·  Ancestry, which sold for $4.7 billion.

·  Vivint, which merged in a $4.2 billion deal.

·  1-800 Contacts, which sold for $3 billion

·  Pluralsight, which sold for $3.5 billion

·  Finicity, which sold for $1 billion.

·  Control4, which sold $680 million

·  Instructure, which sold for $2 billion

·  Workfront, which sold for $1.5 billion.

·  Galileo Financial Technologies, which sold for $1.2 billion

·  Instructure, which sold for $2 billion

·  Conservice, which sold for $2.6 billion

Those deals have created a heck of a lot of personal wealth in the state—and Smith is among the richest. Utah now has an estimated 71,613 millionaires, or about 7.06 percent of the population, ranking the state 16th in the nation behind, according to Kiplinger data. That percentage is higher than the national average of 6.71 percent of US households who claim millionaire status.

The wealth is not necessarily due only to these kinds of billion-dollar one-off deals. Utahns have joined the ranks of millionaires thanks to 1,500 IT firms that generate revenues of $10 billion or more a year and employ more than 35,000 people, says Stringfellow.