Lion of the Blogosphere

The black billionaire who believes in IQ tests

Robert Smith, the richest black person in America (richer than Oprah Winfrey) takes over software and technology companies, and he’s a strong believer in IQ testing.

Applicants to Vista companies, from the entry to the senior-executive levels, are subjected to a timed standardized test.

Testing, Smith says, helps his companies find talented people—people the competition has overlooked because their résumé lacked certain credentials or because of the inherent biases of managers. Smith describes Vista as a pure meritocracy, where high performers succeed regardless of their background, race, or gender. He likes to tell rags-to-riches stories: senior employees who began as a mail-room worker, a roofer, a shelf stocker.

And then the article presents this bogus counterevidence:

Another reason the mid-century vogue for testing came to an end: The tests just weren’t effective. William Whyte once persuaded a group of corporate presidents to take some of the assessments popular at the time. None of the executives scored high enough to be hired by their own company.

That naively assumes the executives were the best people, rather than incompetents who were good at office politics (or even backstabbing people to get to the top).

* * *

Some additional info from the Wall Street Journal:

Former employees say cost cutting is critical to Vista’s model. Some of the companies Vista takes over are located in markets with a high cost of living, such as Southern California or New York City. To tamp down wages and other costs, Vista will relocate part or all of the company to a less-expensive city such as Dallas. Many employees won’t make the move, allowing Vista to hire cheaper replacements. Vista often keeps a company’s headquarters in place and encourages it to expand in lower-cost markets.

Most of the people Vista hires score highly on the cognitive test. Often they are young employees with less-impressive credentials or experience. These HPELs, as they are known, may have gone to state universities and be willing to do a job for $75,000 that an Ivy League graduate in a high-cost market would demand twice as much for.

Vista takes the tests very seriously, using proctors or observing test-takers by video to make sure no one cheats. The test’s purpose, says an executive at a former Vista portfolio company, is to “level the playing field” among employees. The executive says he told a manager who was upset about having to take it that all of his subordinates would be doing so as well.

Former employees say low scorers aren’t fired, but they are less likely to be promoted.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 24, 2018 at 10:51 AM

32 Responses

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  1. My suspicion is that they’ve gotten away with using an IQ test for promotions in part because the CEO is black. Imagine if the CEO were White, or even Asian? They’d be out of business from discrimination lawsuits in a week.

    Georgia Resident

    July 24, 2018 at 11:21 AM

    • Pro tip, have some minorities on the board of directors and upper management. Only half of management has to be effective. The rest ward off (((lawsuits))) and (((bad press))).

      666 goat 666

      July 24, 2018 at 4:13 PM

    • A lot of companies use such tests these days, though the test designers have renamed them to remain HR friendly. Instead of an IQ score or a personality test score, you might receive something called an “A score” for instance. The outrage machine is dumb. It isn’t equipped to handle semantic games.


      July 24, 2018 at 5:11 PM

  2. Wow! This is a true American hero!

    Boot the Ivy-Leaugers for their higher-IQed, prolier counterparts!


    July 24, 2018 at 11:47 AM

    • Sorry to burst your bubble but Ivy Leaguers have much higher IQs than their prolier counterparts. That is what SATs are for, to sort them out. I am sure there are plenty of high IQ Asians and Jews who did not get into Ivy League schools who would outcompete Ivy Leaguers on a level playing field, but that’s probably not your goal.

      Peter Akuleyev

      July 25, 2018 at 3:34 AM

  3. White trash interviewing highly gifted (midly autistic) sensible and very pleasant black :


    July 24, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    • Ironic that his name is Robert Smith. Any relation to the wealthy one, I wonder?

      Does he ever actually say he’s autistic? He does sound a little…off…to my ears.


      July 24, 2018 at 12:13 PM

    • I don’t know if Robert Smith is this guy real name … but it’s not really important.


      July 24, 2018 at 1:15 PM

      • Just looking into his background one finds that he is recently married to a Playboy bunny almost 20 years younger which is his second marriage.


        July 24, 2018 at 10:20 PM

      • Married a Playboy Bunny? Kinda prole but hey, that makes him even more alpha! Really impressive!


        July 25, 2018 at 7:01 AM

    • That was an interesting interview. But the interviewer was in no way “white trash”. Are you stupid?


      July 24, 2018 at 1:45 PM

      • The interviewer was well prepared but the questions were trashy. The black guy was extremely nice not to throw at her agressive comments. I would have. Maybe I am stupid. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s not a question of intelligence but of decency.


        July 24, 2018 at 5:05 PM

      • First, you said she was “white trash”. And now you say the “questions were trashy”. That’s a very big difference. It’s also not true. There was nothing trashy nor indecent about either her or the questions. And anyone who watched the video is probably scratching their heads trying to figure out why you’d say otherwise.


        July 25, 2018 at 12:14 AM

    • Is that like French trash or gypsys?

      666 goat 666

      July 24, 2018 at 4:16 PM

  4. What test do they administer? Why are you so sure it’s an IQ test?


    July 24, 2018 at 12:33 PM

  5. Love that he uses state U grads. But that’s not the way of the Lion.


    July 24, 2018 at 1:11 PM

    • That’s not true, I agree that you can find better people through IQ tests than through degrees.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 24, 2018 at 1:26 PM

      • Degrees at least tell you something about conscientiousness (though with a lot of noise). IQ tests only tell you about IQ. A person with high C ought to have something useful he can do, but people with low C tend to be a drain on the company, regardless of how smart they are.

        I’ve talked before about the smartest guy in my HS class, a guy who failed to graduate college or ever work a real job, due to rock-bottom conscientiousness. If you don’t account for his failure to graduate college, you might think he’s a diamond in the rough.

        But maybe the Robert Smith approach would be to hire him to work in the mailroom for a bit, with a recognition that his high IQ opens the door to quick promotions not available to a typical IQ 90 mailroom worker. You can test his conscientiousness by how he does in the mailroom job.


        July 24, 2018 at 2:04 PM

      • OK, glad we cleared that up. Learning the Lion way is a lifetime endeavor.


        July 24, 2018 at 4:34 PM

      • I also agree that you can find better jobs with an Ivy Degree than you can with a high IQ.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        July 24, 2018 at 4:47 PM

      • PS, that’s the best reason to get an Ivy degree, if your parents pay for it or if you get a scholarship. Very difficult to completely f up with one of them. It’s like having a title in the UK. U r aristocracy.


        July 25, 2018 at 11:55 AM

      • A lot of white collar jobs are meaningless make work regardless of IQ.


        July 24, 2018 at 7:51 PM

      • “I also agree that you can find better jobs with an Ivy Degree than you can with a high IQ.”

        Without doubt.


        July 24, 2018 at 8:07 PM

  6. High IQ people with a stem degree from state university gives you the best of all options : someone who is not expected or in position to suck value but who will produce lots of it. And if you pay him like an Ivy for high targets, he won’t be able to find a better option if the firm you acquired hasn’t a big reputation among HR people. So that’s a very good strategy for middle market technology professional services for the employer.


    July 24, 2018 at 5:09 PM

  7. It’s no surprise that a an exceptional Black person, who grew up to well exceed his beginnings would have a perceived deep interest in weeding out low IQ individuals and sociopaths who are adept at playing the political game well above their actual intelligence level. It was almost guaranteed.


    July 24, 2018 at 5:13 PM

    • blacks who live in major liberal centers tend to be lower IQ, displaced by whites who live in these same neighboring areas who work in high paying fields that require charm, glib and superficiality.


      July 24, 2018 at 10:31 PM

  8. “That naively assumes the executives were the best people, rather than incompetents who were good at office politics (or even backstabbing people to get to the top).”

    I don’t think it assumes it, I think it implies it. That is textbook managerial capitalism and a tested hypothesis by the author of The Organization Man of his sociological theory!

    A Dilettante

    July 24, 2018 at 7:27 PM

  9. Robert Smith, the richest black person in America (richer than Oprah Winfrey

    In the past 33 years it’s been extremely rare that any black American has been richer than Oprah even briefly, so he must be very impressive.

    But I’m not sure how g loaded his test is because he said in one interview that the same percent of people (10%?) score an A on the test, regardless of community


    July 24, 2018 at 9:24 PM

  10. What’s interesting is that this guy avoids setting stake in liberal centers and their SWPL parasites who like everything pricey. Essentially, he likes to hire proles in their cheap cities.


    July 24, 2018 at 10:26 PM

    • That actually kind of makes sense to me. I see all these Rationalists carping about how SF and Silicon Valley are such expensive places to live and I’m like why not just move? Having to live where all the cool kids are seems pretty socially conditioned and not at all rational.

      Jokah Macpherson

      July 24, 2018 at 10:40 PM

  11. My big issue – how come virtually no one had heard of this guy until recently? You would think a black success story in business would be big news. And he seems to suddenly want to become known now given the recent publicity…why?

    Also, he’s married to trophy wife Hope Dworaczyk, one of the hotter playmates of recent decades (not just Hefner’s silicone blonde of the month) but she is not a sista.

    Jokah Macpherson

    July 24, 2018 at 10:36 PM

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