American billionaire John A. Sobrato and his family have been prominent figures in the field of real estate for many years. Known for their expansive entrepreneurship and philanthropy, the Sobrato family is much more than owners of the Sobrato Organization. To give you better insight, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about John A. Sobrato and his family.

1. How it all began

John Sobrato’s journey to the top of the American real estate empire hasn’t been an overnight success. Born in 1939, Sobrato’s journey began alongside his mother, Ann Sobrato, when they started selling homes in Palo Alto after the death of his father. With a humble start, John Sobrato laid the foundation of his empire, which is now Silicon Valley’s second-largest property owner.

John’s mother, Ann Sobrato, created Midtown Reality in 1952, which was the first stepping stone for the Sobrato family. As years passed, John joined his mother’s venture and bought his first building in 1960 at the age of 21. This marked the beginning of the Sobrato Organization.

2. A legacy inherited and expanded

The Sobrato family’s success story is not an individual’s achievement; instead, it revolves around the family. After John A. Sobrato, his son John M. Sobrato took over the company’s reins and continued to grow the family’s property empire.

John M. Sobrato has made significant contributions to the family business. Focused on legacy, he has not only expanded the business beyond Silicon Valley but has ensured to institutionalize philanthropy at the core of the company’s culture.

3. Commitment to philanthropy

The Sobrato family is renowned for their philanthropy as much as they are for their real estate empire. They firmly believe in giving back to the community and have done so generously over the years. In 1996, John A. Sobrato, along with his wife Sue Sobrato, founded The Sobrato Family Foundation.

The Sobrato Family Foundation works towards providing equal opportunities for the vulnerable in Silicon Valley. They focus on education and economic opportunities to help improve people’s lives, donating millions of dollars annually towards these causes.

4. The billionaire who doesn’t own a house

Surprisingly, John A. Sobrato, who owns one of the largest real estate companies, doesn’t own a house. He revealed in an interview in 2012 that he sold his house and started living in a rented apartment. This peculiar fact is a testament to his simplicity and humility.

Though one of the most influential families in Silicon Valley, the Sobrato family leads a relatively quiet life. They prefer to keep their personal lives private, making their contributions to the community their foremost public marker.

5. The backbone – Sue Sobrato

Sue Sobrato, the wife of John A. Sobrato, has been an integral part of the Sobrato family’s success story. Not only has she been a supportive partner, but she has also been a driving force in the family’s philanthropic endeavors.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Sue Sobrato became an advocate for cancer research and treatment. She became the founder of Bay Area Cancer Connections, a nonprofit organization that supports people affected by breast cancer.

6. The successful venture into education

A key focus of the Sobrato family’s philanthropy lies in education. The Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model built by the family foundation is a comprehensive educational model serving English learners from pre-school to the third grade.

The SEAL model, already benefiting more than 30,000 students, aims to eliminate language-based achievement gaps for children, fostering better learning outcomes for everyone. This is another manifestation of the family’s commitment to creating opportunities for the underserved sections of society.

7. The Sobrato family’s definition of success

For the Sobrato family, success is not measured in dollar amounts. They define success by the positive impact they can have on people’s lives. This outlook reflects in their approach to philanthropy and business.

Following this philosophy, the Sobrato family donates to causes they care about. They have also made commitments to give away their wealth in their lifetime, dedicating at least 50% of their business properties towards supporting the community.

8. Pioneering Philanthropic Ventures

In addition to their real estate business and family foundation, the Sobrato family is also involved in various philanthropic pursuits. One of these is the Sobrato Philanthropies, a unified giving strategy that brings together the family’s business and philanthropic efforts.

The Sobrato Philanthropies consolidate all of the family’s charitable activities, making them more efficient and impactful. This approach will ensure their legacy of giving continues well into the future.

9. The Sobrato Pavilion

The Sobrato Pavilion, a part of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, is a testament to the Sobrato family’s commitment to healthcare. The pavilion was named in honor of the Sobrato family who donated $5 million towards its creation.

The pavilion boasts state-of-the-art facilities that help deliver the best healthcare services to the people of Santa Clara County. The family’s contribution towards healthcare extends beyond mere donations and into public-private partnerships for better patient care and access.

10. Guiding future generations

John A. Sobrato has always emphasized including younger generations in their philanthropist initiatives. Granderchildren are included within the philanthropic efforts, learning the family’s values and the importance of charitable giving.

This deliberate approach to foster family traditions while maintaining a focus on social good is an aspect that sets the Sobrato family apart. Their approach ensures that their legacy of giving and their business empire continue down the line.

Discover more about the Sobrato Organization at or learn more about their philanthropic efforts at If you’re interested in their work in education and the SEAL model, visit