Parviz Morad Omidyar
June 21, 1967
|Education||University of California, Berkeley|
Tufts University (BS)
|Occupation||Founder of eBay|
Founder of Honolulu Civil Beat
Founder of Ulupono Initiative
Founder of Omidyar Network
Founder of First Look Media
|Board member of||eBay|
Pierre Morad Omidyar (born Parviz Morad Omidyar, June 21, 1967) is a French-American billionaire technology entrepreneur, software engineer, and philanthropist. He is the founder of eBay where he served as chairman from 1998 to 2015. Omidyar and his wife, Pamela, are philanthropists who founded Omidyar Network in 2004.
Since 2010, Omidyar has been involved in online journalism as the head of investigative reporting and public affairs news service Honolulu Civil Beat. In 2013, he announced that he would create and finance First Look Media, a journalism venture to include Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill.
Early life and education
Omidyar was born in Paris, the son of Iranian parents who had emigrated to France for higher education. He was named Parviz. His mother, Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar, who earned her doctorate in linguistics at the Sorbonne, is an academic. His father, Cyrus Omidyar (born c. 1934), completed medical education and training in France and is a surgeon. After immigrating with his family to the United States when Omidyar was a child, the father worked as a urologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He now practices in Aliso Viejo, California.
Omidyar attended Punahou School in Honolulu for a couple of years. (He now serves on its Board of Trustees). His interest in computers began while he was a ninth-grade student at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. He graduated in 1984 from St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Potomac, Maryland.
Shortly after studying at Berkeley, Omidyar started working for Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary. He worked with the team that upgraded 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 Inc.
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. On Labor Day, Monday, September 4, 1995, he launched an online service called Auction Web, which would eventually be developed as the auction site eBay.
The first item sold on the eBay site was a broken laser pointer. Omidyar was astonished that anyone would pay for a broken device, 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.
In 1997, Omidyar changed the company's name from AuctionWeb to eBay, and began to advertise the service aggressively. The name "eBay" was his second choice. His first choice was already registered to a Canadian mining company, Echo Bay Mines. He originally wanted Echo Bay, the name of a recreational area near Lake Mead, Nevada, because it "sounded cool". When he learned that echobay.com was taken, he dropped the "cho", and ebay.com was born. 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, and confirmed by eBay.
Jeffrey Skoll joined the company in 1996. In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as president and CEO. She ran 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.
In 2020, Omidyar stepped down from the board of eBay as part of a broader overhaul of the company. He has, however, stayed active in the company, retaining the title of director emeritus.
News media businesses
In 2010, Omidyar launched an online 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. On September 4, 2013, Honolulu Civil Beat started a partnership with HuffPost, launching the weblog's latest regional addition, HuffPost Hawaii.
In 2013, prompted by the Edward Snowden leaks, Omidyar announced the creation of First Look Media, a journalism venture. On February 10, 2014, it launched The Intercept and draws from such journalists as Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, Dan Froomkin, John Temple, and Jay Rosen.
Omidyar has been part of the executive producer team for the following films.
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 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 $992 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including Property Rights, Governance & Citizen Engagement, Education, Financial Inclusion and Consumer & Internet Mobile. In 2010, he and his wife established, along with Richard Branson and the Nduna Foundation (founded by Amy Robbins), Enterprise Zimbabwe.
In 2018 Omidyar established the global philanthropic organisation named Luminate Group. He separated the organization into a separate unit from his ten-year Governance & Engagement initiative.
Anti-Trust Activism and Criticism of Big Tech
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He has bankrolled groups like the anti-monopoly think tank Open Markets Institute and the digital rights group Public Knowledge Project, in the fight against the big tech companies, which he criticizes as overly powerful and destructive to democracy. His advocacy and investment group Omidyar Network distributed widely read papers laying out the antitrust cases against Facebook and Google. In February 2021, his network hosted a series on whistleblowing, and is now providing financial support to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Awards and honors
- Honorary doctorate, Tufts University (2011)
- 1999 EY Entrepreneur of The Year National Winner
- 2000 Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member Quincy Jones.
- 2018's Third Most Influential French Entrepreneur by Richtopia.
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- Viegas 2006, p. 14 harvnb error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFViegas2006 (help)
- Viegas 2006, p. 16 harvnb error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFViegas2006 (help)
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Pierre Omidyar berkeley.
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- Cohen 2002 harvnb error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFCohen2002 (help)
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It is possible to begin to discern Omidyar’s motivations with a little online surveillance.