Michael Malone’s Conversation with John Sobrato for Santa Clara Magazine titled “Like no place on earth”
On the occasion of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s “Spirit of Silicon Valley” award, “Professor Emeritus of Silicon Valley” Michael S. Malone (SCU ’75, MBA ’77) sat down with John A. Sobrato (’60) to talk about his decades of philanthropic leadership. Topics ranged from regional history, how the family’s philanthropy was formalized, Sobratos’ longtime support for Santa Clara University—and John’s excitement for Santa Clara University’s future. Click here for the full article and associated video. A couple of excerpts:
Malone: SCU is your alma mater, but I can’t help but feel there are a million things calling for your attention out there. Why this university?
Sobrato: …At Santa Clara, in addition to a technical education, you have your education pretty well grounded in ethics. The Jesuits believe in educating the whole person. We have the three C’s here at Santa Clara: competence, compassion, and conscience. That’s driven into students. My son John Michael ’83 and his deceased wife, Abby ’83, both graduated from Santa Clara. I had two grandsons graduate here three or four years ago. All of them were taught the same thing I was taught: that if you are successful in a particular business, you have an obligation to share some of that success with the communities where you were able to succeed—for us, where we were able to construct buildings and make our business a success…
Malone: You pioneered a trend by going into philanthropy. I think of you and I think of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard beginning all this. Thirty years ago the complaint was that Silicon Valley didn’t give any money to charity. “It’s tightwads, new money”—and all that. Now Silicon Valley seems to lead the philanthropic role in some ways.
Sobrato: I think so. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation now is the largest in the United States. They have $7 billion under management, all in donor-advised funds. A few enlightened folks, like the Zuckerbergs, have set aside $150 million of their billion that they gave to the foundation to go into education in Silicon Valley. But I would say all the other major donors have an alma mater outside of California that they donate to—or they get involved with international causes. As a consequence, very few of those $7 billion gets invested in Silicon Valley. So we as a foundation have decided that we need to primarily focus our giving on causes here in Silicon Valley. We hope that what we’re doing will create a culture of philanthropy that gives back in our own neighborhood…
Click here to read the full interview.