26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: Takashi ‘Tak’ Sato and Jon Soberg, co-managing partners, MS&AD Ventures
Jon Soberg and Tak Sato are managing partners of MS&AD Ventures, a corporate venturing subsidiary of Japan-based insurance firm MS&AD Holdings. Additionally, Soberg is chief executive while Sato is president of the unit.
MS&AD Ventures focuses on early-stage artificial intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, insurance, internet-of-things technology developers. The unit has backed 44 companies, most recently investing in plant DNA technology developer InnerPlant, fundraising platform Pledgeling, autonomous electric helicopter producer Volocopter and cybersecurity software provider Vdoo.
In addition, self-driving car developer Voyage and customer relationship management software developer Node have enabled the unit to exit in the past year through mergers and acquisitions.
Sato joined insurance firm Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group (MSIG) – then known as Sumitomo Marine Fire Insurance – in 1996. He set up Cholamandalam MS General Insurance, an India-based joint venture between conglomerate Murugappa Group and MSIG, in 2003 and assumed a general manager role in the Indian city of Chennai for three years.
After that, Sato established a global human resources (HR) development program at MSIG’s Tokyo headquarters in 2007 as a member of the global HR group. In May 2017, he was appointed as MS&AD Insurance Group’s first Silicon Valley representative.
Sato helped the corporate launch a business development scheme called MS&AD Garage Program in January 2018 in which employees of MS&AD are invited to stay in Silicon Valley for two weeks to solve strategic pain points by working together. 37 employees from 22 locations in five countries participated individually, launching seven new businesses in about two years.
MS&AD Ventures was formed in 2018 as the group’s first overseas CVC unit. In October the same year, the unit started to back startups on a scale of $40m, investing 13 companies in half a year. The unit expanded its fund to $120m in July the following year.
Soberg was brought on board by MS&AD Ventures in October 2018, having been a venture capitalist for a decade with a track record of returns including multiple unicorn investments and strong exits. He is known for being one of the early investors from Silicon Valley to invest globally and for his focus on financial technologies and applying data and analytics to change industries.
Soberg began his VC career at VC firm Blumberg Capital, where he was a partner specialising in enterprise software and financial technology investments. He has made more than 100 investments and held over 40 board and observer positions across five continents.
Prior to becoming an investor, Soberg was a serial entrepreneur and operator, with an initial public offering exit at online advertising provider AdForce in 1999, and multiple financial services industry positions at firms including Capital Group, Great-West Life, HSBC and executive leadership of Ditech’s $70bn lending organisation.
Soberg has been a lecturer at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and holds engineering degrees from Harvey Mudd College and Northwestern University. He graduated as a Palmer Scholar with an MBA in entrepreneurial management and marketing from Wharton, and he holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Sato, on the other hand, studied at Keio University before earning an MBA from Chuo University Graduate School and undertook a course on design thinking at Stanford Continuing Studies.