About John A. Sobrato

As Founder and Principal of The Sobrato Organization, John A. Sobrato heads one of the most successful private real estate development organizations in California.

Mr. Sobrato’s career in real estate dates to 1957, when he began selling homes in Palo Alto at age eighteen while attending Santa Clara University. Although working only part time during the school year, he was soon among the Peninsula’s top residential real estate brokers, becoming the first member of the Million Dollar Club of the Palo Alto Real Estate Board. After his graduation in 1960 with a Business degree, Mr. Sobrato founded Midtown Realty, specializing in “Eichler” home re-sales. Building on his success in the residential marketplace he soon expanded into commercial real estate development, working with his mother and Carl Berg in the development of industrial properties. Thus began Sobrato Development Companies, nearly a decade before the name “Silicon Valley” was coined.

In 1974, Mr. Sobrato sold Midtown Realty in order to concentrate his full attention to commercial development of the rapidly emerging high technology industry. Since that time, he has been responsible for development and construction of over one hundred fifty office and R&D facilities totaling over l6 million square feet. The company enjoys long-term relationships with a majority of Silicon Valley’s established technology companies.

Today, Sobrato owns an R&D portfolio of 8 million square feet and 7,500 apartments in California, Oregon, and Washington states, all owned by the Sobrato family without institutional partners.

In 1998, Mr. Sobrato and his family created the Sobrato Family Foundation to provide philanthropic support to local non-profits. Since its founding, the Sobrato Family Foundation has donated over three hundred million dollars in real estate and cash to Silicon Valley non-profit agencies. The Foundation was recognized by the Society of Fundraising Professionals as the Foundation of the Year in 2007; 175 Foundations in the United States and abroad were nominated for this prestigious award. Today, fifty nine non-profit service providers receive rent-free office space in three of Sobrato’s office parks in Milpitas, San José, and Redwood City, totaling approximately 350,000 square feet. The Foundation was recently named the top corporate philanthropist in Silicon Valley, ahead of Cisco, Intel, Google and other major Silicon Valley technology companies.

John and his wife Susan have been married for 52 years. They have three children and seven grandchildren. The Sobrato Organization CEO is his son John Michael. John, Sr. attributes the company’s recent success to John Michael, who has worked in the company since he was a teenager.


Past President, Palo Alto Real Estate Board; Trustee, University of Santa Clara; Regent Emeritus, Bellarmine College Preparatory; Past President, St. Francis High School Foundation; Santa Clara County Director, Bay Area Council; Board Member, United Way, Parents Helping Parents; Job Train; Ravenswood Health Center; Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Foundation. Vice-Chairman, Latino Preparatory Academy; Chairman, Sobrato Family Foundation. Co-Chair, Real Estate Trust of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Recent Awards

Named to Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, 1989; United Way De Tocqueville Society Man of the Year, 1994; National Conference for Community and Justice Man of the Year, 1998; National Society of Fund-raising Executives Philanthropist of the Year, 1998; Santa Clara Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen, 2000; Mid-Peninsula Boys & Girls Leading Citizen, 2006; City Year Leadership award, 2008; NAIOP Developer of the Decade, 2008; and David Packard Civic Entrepreneur Award, 2012. Honorary Doctorates from Santa Clara University and National Hispanic University.