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John Albert Sobrato

John Albert Sobrato (born c. May 23, 1939) is an American billionaire real estate developer, and the founder of the Cupertino, California-based Sobrato Organization, a Silicon Valley development firm specializing in commercial and residential real estate. He has been listed as one of the richest Americans for many years, and he and his family have made large philanthropic donations to a variety of causes.

The majority of Sobrato’s fortune is derived from the real estate he controls through closely held Sobrato Organization. The properties encompass more than 7 million square feet of commercial space, according to the company’s website.

The assets included here are valued based on information provided by Sobrato in July 2021. Values were adjusted for changes in property indices in April 2022.

Valuations similar to those provided by Sobrato have also been determined by a separate analysis. This includes an assessment of commercial holdings based on average selling price per square foot of offices owned by Sobrato, according to three Silicon Valley property brokers. Residential properties were assessed using the median list price for homes in California, according to Zillow, an online real estate database.

Sobrato declined to comment on the net worth calculation.

Biography

Education: Santa Clara University

John Albert Sobrato was born in San Francisco on May 23, 1939, the son of Italian immigrants John and Ann. His mother sold the family’s restaurant business after his father died in 1952, and used the proceeds to invest in real estate. After graduating from Santa Clara University in 1960, Sobrato founded property developer Midtown Realty.

He partnered with his mother a year later to construct his first development, a 14,000 square foot office for Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California. The next year, broker Carl Berg joined Midtown. The pair developed 2.3 million square feet of property in Silicon Valley before they split, after which Sobrato established Sobrato Development Companies.

By 1985, Sobrato’s commercial real estate holdings had surpassed 5 million square feet. He began to diversify into residential property, developing his first apartment project in San Jose. A year later, Sobrato began to construct Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Sobrato passed the daily operation of the company to his son, John, in 1997. He focuses on his philanthropic giving through the Sobrato Family Organization.

Milestones

  • 1939 John Albert Sobrato is born in San Francisco.
  • 1960 Graduates from Santa Clara University. Founds Midtown Realty.
  • 1961 Partners with mother to build first development in Sunnyvale, California.
  • 1978 Ends partnership with realtor Carl Berg and founds Sobrato Development.
  • 1991 Develops Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California.
  • 1996 Sobrato Family Foundation is formed to support causes in Silicon Valley.
  • 1997 Son John takes over day-to-day operations of real estate developer.
  • 2013 Son steps down from day-to-day operations to focus on philanthropy.

Personal life

Sobrato and his wife Susan live in Atherton, California. Sue and John have three children, John Michael Sobrato, Sheri Sobrato Brisson, and Lisa Sobrato Sonsini, five grandsons, and two granddaughters. His son John M. Sobrato is a minority owner of San Francisco 49ers.

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