Robert Roche is Executive Chairman of the board of directors of Acorn International (NYSE: ATV). Since co-founding the company in 1998, Roche has grown Acorn into a leading media and branding company with an unparalleled track record of developing and marketing some of China’s best known consumer-branded products. Roche founded Acorn with the goal of taking what is best from the world – from product selection, design and quality, to management expertise and global best practices – and bringing it to Chinese consumers.
Robert Roche is an investor, philanthropist and civic leader in Asia and the U.S. He has lived and worked in Asia for more than 30 years, and has founded multiple companies, invested in start-ups, and worked on initiatives to strengthen U.S./China relations. In addition to his role at Acorn, Roche is also the Chairman of Oak Lawn Marketing, an omni-channel brand response company in Japan. Roche co-founded the company in 1993 and helped negotiate the sale of a 51 percent interest of the company to Japan’s largest mobile phone operator in 2009.
In 2004, Roche relocated from Nagoya, Japan, to Shanghai, China, and expanded his investments and business activities there, including financing and co-founding the award-winning URBN Hotel, China’s first carbon-neutral hotel. The business later expanded and Roche established Cachet Hotel Group, an Asia-Pacific hospitality management company. In 2013, he co-founded IS Seafood, an industry-leading import company that sources and ships fish from Iceland to China. Robert Roche’s portfolio as an investor and business leader also includes TAG Capital, an Asia-Pacific investment bank specializing in cross-border transactions in the region; and KraneShares, an asset management company that provides global investment opportunities for the next wave of China’s development.
As an ardent civic leader, Roche passionately believes in serving the communities in which he lives and does business. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, member of the Board of Trustees for the Shanghai American School, and a steering committee and board member at the USA National Pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo. President Obama appointed him to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, where he served from 2010 to 2014. He supports several non-profit enterprises dedicated to strengthening U.S./Asia relations, including the U.S.-China Strong Foundation and Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA), an initiative to increase the diversity and number of American youth who are developing foreign language fluency, cross-cultural awareness, and 21st-century skills. Active in U.S. policy, he is an Advisor for the Center for New American Security, a nonprofit focused on national defense and security policy research. Robert Roche also co-founded Business Forward, an organization that connects business leaders with U.S. policymakers, and currently serves on the board.
Through the Roche Family Foundation, Robert Roche gives to international causes, educational programs and community initiatives. Roche has endowed a Chair for Interreligious Research at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, and established a Masters of Laws (LLM) in International Business Transactions program at his alma mater, the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law.
Roche holds a degree in Economics and Japanese Studies from Illinois State University-Normal, Illinois, and received his Juris Doctor from Denver University, Sturm College of Law in 1988. He was an exchange student at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, as an undergraduate in 1983-1984, and as a law student in 1986-1987. Roche is married with three children and spends his time in China, Japan, and the U.S. He is fluent in Japanese and proficient in Mandarin Chinese.
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