Minnesota native thrives on competition
By Todd Nelson
Successful tech CEO Kristin Nimsger ’98 has gone from building and running software companies to advising them on a larger scale on growth strategy and operational transformation.
Nimsger joined Vista Equity Partners in April as a senior adviser in the Austin, Texas-based firm’s private equity division. She previously led two portfolio companies for Vista, which has $58 billion in capital commitments across its investment strategies.
The Minnesota native thrives on competition, from competitive dance as a youngster to working as a product liability lawyer in Minneapolis to leading rapidly growing tech companies.
“What I loved about (legal) practice is that competitive component, the desire to advocate for your client and drive change and positive results,” Nimsger said. “That’s not horribly dissimilar to the charter of growing a business. It’s creating positive change and evolution and opportunity.”
Nimsger joined Twin Cities tech start-up Ontrack Data International in 2000 after a William Mitchell classmate told her how much fun he had working there. She became president during a decade-long run before leading Thomson Reuters’ litigation practice software business for two years.
Vista called in 2013, recruiting Nimsger to serve as CEO of MicroEdge, a philanthropic tech company based in Minneapolis and New York City. After MicroEdge was sold, Nimsger joined Vista portfolio company Social Solutions as CEO in 2016. She helped secure a $59 million pledge from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for the firm, which supports nonprofits and government agencies with data science and information solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis for Nimsger, who also led tech companies through 9/11’s aftermath and the 2008-09 financial meltdown.
“What’s exciting is the opportunity to take those experiences and bring them forward across a broader portfolio of companies and help their management teams grapple with those hard challenges that I and my management teams have seen over the years,” Nimsger said.
Working at Vista, which partners with enterprise software company executives to advance and scale their portfolio companies, “is not something I would have expected as I walked into Mitchell my first day,” Nimsger said.
Nimsger chose William Mitchell in part to be close to friends and family. Having worked full time since she was 16, including while earning a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Nimsger appreciated maintaining a full work and class schedule in law school.
To this day, Nimsger said, her closest friends are her law school classmates.
“There was something unique about the culture and the sense of community,” Nimsger said. “People really helped each other. The relationships that were formed there, there are people that are still my go-to people. I loved my time at Mitchell. Those are experiences and knowledge that I draw on every day.”
This article was written by Todd Nelson, a freelance journalist in the Twin Cities, and appeared in Mitchell Hamline’s Winter 2020 Magazine.