Pierre Omidyar is an American entrepreneur and software engineer. In 1995, he started eBay, which is now a very successful online auction site. He was the chairman of the company from 1998 to 2015.
When eBay went public for the first time in 1998, he quickly became a billionaire. As of 2021, he has an estimated net worth of $21.4 billion. In 2010, he launched an investigative news service, Honolulu Civil Beat. He created a journalism venture called First Look Media in 2014.
As a philanthropist, he and his wife started Omidyar Network in 2004 with the goal of expanding their work beyond non-profits to include for-profit businesses and public policy, which would serve the purpose of the philanthropic investment firm.
Pierre Omidyar, personal life:
Pierre was born to Iranian parents who migrated to France for higher studies. He grew up in Paris and was formerly named Parvez. His father, Cyrus Omidyar, is a surgeon who currently practices in Aliso Viejo, California.
His mother, Elane Mir-Djalali, is an academic who earned her doctorate in linguistics at the Sorbonne. The family moved to the US because of where his father worked. At first, he was an urologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
He married Pamela Karr, who is also one of the co-founders of his philanthropic firm, Omidyar Network. He also contributes to Democratic Party candidates and organizations in the United States. In 2010, he joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s “giving pledge”. He publicly committed to giving the majority of his wealth to charitable causes.
Pierre Omidyar, Education:
Pierre went to Honolulu’s Punahou School for elementary school, and he is now on its Board of Trustees. He took a great interest in computers while studying in the ninth grade at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. He graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Maryland, in 1984.
He completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Tufts University, Massachusetts, in 1988. During his undergraduate years, he also studied at the University of California.
After completing his studies, Pierre went to work for Claris, a subsidiary of Apple Computer. He worked there on the team that upgraded MacDraw to MacDraw II. He co-founded a pen-based computing startup, Ink Development, in 1991.
But his new business was later turned into an e-commerce company and given the name “eShop Incorporation.” On June 11, 1996, Microsoft purchased the business for less than $50 million, and he made $1 million from the deal.
Pierre has been involved in online journalism, and since 2010, he has served as the head of investigative reporting and public affairs at Honolulu Civil Beat, which covered civic affairs in Hawaii. The venture later partnered with HuffPost for its latest regional blog, HuffPost Hawaii.
He declared in 2013 that he would create and finance a journalism venture called First Look Media. He launched it on February 10, 2014, with The Intercept and some well-known journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, Dan Froomkin, Jay Rosen, and John Temple.
He has also served as an executive producer on movies like Merchants of Doubt (2014) and Spotlight (2015).
Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay:
Pierre Omidyar established his e-commerce company, eBay, in 1995. The company is headquartered in San Jose, California. He served as the Chairman of the company from 1998 to 2015. He also served as a board member of eBay until 2020. Omidyar was named among the billionaires after eBay launched a successful IPO in September 1998.
The company bought an online payment company, PayPal, in 2002. However, the payment firm spun off, and currently Omidyar owns 6% of it. He stepped down from the eBay Board of Directors in 2020 due to his involvement in a broader restructuring of the company. At eBay, he will continue to serve as director emeritus, which is an honorary title.
Pierre Omidyar, business idea:
At age 28, he started writing code for an online business that would let people directly bid on collectible items. On September 4, 1995, he launched the online service Auction Web, which eventually became the auction site eBay.
By 1996, he had signed a license to sell airline tickets online. It hosted two million auctions within the first month. By 1997, he had renamed the company from Auction Web to eBay and was strategic enough with effective advertising.
Founder of the Omidyar Network:
Pierre and his wife, Pamela, established their philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network, in 2004. The organization’s goal is to improve people’s lives by creating opportunities and increasing the power of markets. It basically invests in innovative organizations to beget economic, social, and political change.
It is said that it has given more than $992 million to nonprofits and for-profit businesses that help the economy grow and bring people back into the workforce in a number of investment areas.
Amy Robbins established the Nduna Foundation in 2010, which Mr. and Mrs. Omidyar joined with Richard Branson to launch. He further established Luminate, a global philanthropic organization, in 2018. After governing it for ten years, Omidyar separated the organization into a separate unit.