Pierre Omidyar

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Pierre Omidyar
Pomidyarji.jpg
Pierre Omidyar at his Las Vegas home in 2007
Born Pierre Morad Omidyar
(1967-06-21) June 21, 1967 (age 47)
Paris, France
Residence Henderson, Nevada, U.S. [1]
Alma mater Tufts University
Occupation Founder and Chairman, eBay Inc. Founder and CEO of Honolulu Civil Beat
Net worth Increase$8.0 billion (July 2014)[2]
Spouse(s) Pamela Kerr Omidyar

Pierre Morad Omidyar (Persian: پیر مراد امیدیار‎, born June 21, 1967) is a French-Iranian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is the founder and chairman of the eBay auction site.[3] He became a billionaire at the age of 31 with eBay's 1998 Initial Public Offering (IPO).[2] Omidyar and his wife Pamela are well-known philanthropists who founded Omidyar Network in 2004 in order to expand their efforts beyond nonprofits to include for-profits and public policy. Since 2010 Omidyar has been involved in online journalism as head of investigative reporting and public affairs news service Honolulu Civil Beat.[4] In 2013, he announced he would be creating and financing First Look Media, a journalism venture to include Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill.[5][6][7]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Omidyar was born in France to Iranian immigrant parents who had been sent there by his grandparents to attend university.[8] His mother Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar (Persian: الهه میرجلالی امیدیار‎), who did her doctorate in linguistics at the Sorbonne, is a well-known academic.[9] His father was a surgeon.[10] The family moved to the U.S. when Omidyar was a child.

Omidyar's interest in computers began while he was a student at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia, in the ninth grade. He was graduated from St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, in 1984. Omidyar was graduated from Tufts University in Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts, with a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1988. Shortly after, Omidyar went to work for Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary, where he worked on the team upgrading MacDraw to MacDraw II. In 1991, he co-founded Ink Development, a pen-based computing startup that later was rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop.

eBay and later career[edit]

In 1995, at the age of 28, Omidyar began to write the original computer code for an online venue to enable the listing of a direct person-to-person auction for collectible items. He created a simple prototype on his personal web page, and on Labor Day, Monday, September 4, 1995, he launched an online service called, Auction Web, which would eventually become the auction site eBay.[11]

The service was hosted on a website Omidyar had originally created for information on the Ebola virus.[12][13] The first item sold on the site was a broken laser pointer. Omidyar was astonished that anyone would pay for the device in its broken state, but the buyer assured him that he was deliberately collecting broken laser pointers. Similar surprises followed. The business exploded as correspondents began to register trade goods of an unimaginable variety.

Omidyar incorporated the enterprise; the small fee he collected on each sale financed the expansion of the site. The revenue soon outstripped his salary at General Magic and nine months later, Omidyar decided to dedicate his full attention to his new enterprise.

By 1996, when Omidyar signed a licensing deal to offer airline tickets online, the site had hosted 250,000 auctions. In the first month of 1997, it hosted two million. By the middle of that year, eBay was hosting nearly 800,000 auctions a day.[11]

Omidyar with Richard Branson

In 1997, Pierre Omidyar changed the company's name to eBay and began to advertise the service aggressively. The word "eBay" was made up on the fly by Omidyar when he was told that his first choice for his web site, "echobay", had already been registered. Not wanting to make a second trip to Sacramento, he came up with "eBay". The frequently repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fiancée trade Pez candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. This was revealed in Adam Cohen's 2002 book,[14] and confirmed by eBay.

Jeffrey Skoll joined the company in 1996. In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as president and CEO, and continued to run the company until January 2008, when she announced her retirement. In September 1998, eBay launched a successful public offering, making both Omidyar and Skoll billionaires. As of July 2008, Omidyar's 178 million eBay shares were worth around $4.45 billion.[15] Omidyar is also an investor of Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, California.

In 2010, Omidyar launched online an investigative reporting news service, Honolulu Civil Beat, covering civic affairs in Hawaii. The site has been named Best News Website in Hawaii for three consecutive years.[16] On September 4, 2013, Honolulu Civil Beat started a partnership with The Huffington Post, launching the weblog's latest regional addition, HuffPost Hawaii.

In 2013, prompted by the Edward Snowden leaks,[17] Omidyar announced the creation of First Look Media, a journalism venture launched on February 10, 2014 with The Intercept and including such journalists as Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, Dan Froomkin, John Temple, and Jay Rosen.[18][19]

Omidyar Network[edit]

Main article: Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. It was established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam. The organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $270 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including property rights, government transparency, and social media. In 2010, he and his wife established, along with Richard Branson and the Nduna Foundation (founded by Amy Robbins), Enterprise Zimbabwe.[20]

Wealth[edit]

According to Forbes, Pierre Omidyar is worth $8.5 billion (US) as of September 2013, making him the 123rd richest person in the world. [2]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Pierre Omidyar's House". Virtual Globetrotting. 
  2. ^ a b c Pierre Omidyar - Forbes, Forbes.com. Accessed July 31, 2014.
  3. ^ Viegas 2006, p. 13
  4. ^ "Hawaii News - Honolulu Civil Beat - Investigative Reporting". Civil Beat. 
  5. ^ "The extraordinary promise of the new Greenwald-Omidyar venture (UPDATED)". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  6. ^ "Here's Who's Backing Glenn Greenwald's New Website". Reuters via HuffPo. October 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Jay Rosen. "A First Look at NewCo’s structure". Pressthink.org. 
  8. ^ Viegas 2006, p. 14
  9. ^ Viegas 2006, p. 16
  10. ^ Viegas 2006, p. 18
  11. ^ a b "Pierre Omidyar Biography". 
  12. ^ Erin Griffith (October 16, 2014). "eBay started as a website about Ebola". Fortune. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ Kyle Alspach (October 17, 2014). "Ebay began as a site about Ebola, but it's a mystery what was on it". BostInno. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  14. ^ Cohen 2002
  15. ^ "EBAY: Major Holders for eBay Inc. - Yahoo! Finance". Finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  16. ^ "Civil Beat Named Best Hawaii News Website for the Third Year in a Row". Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  17. ^ Rice, Andrew (November 2, 2014). "The Pierre Omidyar Insurgency". New York Magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "NYU's Jay Rosen to join Omidyar venture". Politico. 
  19. ^ "Here's Who's Backing Glenn Greenwald's New Website". Reuters via HuffPo. October 15, 2013. 
  20. ^ New York Times: "Branson Charity Focuses Aid Effort on Zimbabwe" By STEPHANIE STROM September 20, 2010

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
New title
Chairman of eBay
1995 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent