When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, the three most common responses are a doctor, a musician or a teacher. When Joanna Drake was a kid, she had a very different ambition: “to become the ambassador to Japan.”
She hasn’t achieved that dream (yet), but after spending part of her childhood in Tokyo, she has laid the groundwork in case she gets the call.
Drake graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s in political economy, focusing on the Japanese industrial state. After studying Japanese business and language at Tokyo’s Keio University, she got her master’s in East Asian studies, focusing on Japanese business, at Stanford University.
Drake is now co-founder and managing partner of Magnify Ventures, which recently closed on a debut fund of $52 million anchored by Melinda French Gates’s Pivotal Ventures. Based in Los Angeles, Magnify targets early-stage companies operating in parenting and family life, the future of work, household optimization, and longevity. Before founding Magnify, Drake spent over seven years as a GP at Core Ventures Group. Earlier in her career, she was president of new media and later COO and CSO at Current TV.
She currently lives in San Francisco, but her Japanese roots are front and center in her life (and her house).
What’s the most unusual thing in your house?
Probably the full single women’s Kimono and Obi hanging in my hallway (it was a wedding gift).
Best pizza topping?
Favorite activity outside of work?
A tie between dancing and hiking.
Last book you read, and would you recommend it?
Humor, Seriously by my friend Jennifer Aaker, because life is too intense and we all need to learn how to laugh more.
Favorite band or musical artist?
Indie artist Sean Hayes.
Favorite travel destination?
Will you retire early, late or never?
The most perfect food in the world is avocado.
Beer, wine or (fill in the blank)?
I’m definitely a wine woman. Pinot is my go-to.
Dream job as a kid?
To become the ambassador to Japan.