Pierre Omidyar - The Philanthropist Who Founded the Biggest Online Auction Site

Megha Rani Megha Rani
Jun 24, 2022 6 min read
Pierre Omidyar - The Philanthropist Who Founded the Biggest Online Auction Site

Pierre Omidyar is an American Entrepreneur and a software engineer who founded the successful online auction platform, eBay in 1995. He was the Chairman of the company from 1998 to 2015. He soon became a billionaire as soon as eBay issued an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1998. As of 2021, he has an estimated net worth of $21.4billion and is said to be the 24th richest person in the world.

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 cordially founded Omidyar Network in 2004 with an aim to expand their efforts beyond non-profits to include for-profits and public policy, which would serve the purpose of the philanthropic investment firm.

Pierre Omidyar- Biography

Name Pierre Morad Omidyar / Parviz Morad Omidyar
Born 21 June 1967
Birthplace Paris, France
Age 55 (2022)
Nationality American
Education Tufts University
Profession Entrepreneur; Software Engineer; Software Engineer
Known for Founder of eBay; Founder of Honolulu Civil Beat; Founder of Omidyar Network; Founder of First Look Media
Net worth $21.8 billion (2022)

Pierre Omidyar - Personal Life
Pierre Omidyar - Education
Pierre Omidyar - Professional Life
Pierre Omidyar - Founder of eBay
Pierre Omidyar - Founder of Omidyar Network
Pierre Omidyar - Founder of Honolulu Civil Beat
Pierre Omidyar - Founder of First Look Media
Pierre Omidyar - Honors & Awards

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 shifted to the US owing to his father's job location, as he initially worked as an urologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

He married Pamela Karr, who is also one of the co-founder of his philanthropic firm, Omidyar Network. He is also a benefactor to the US Democratic Party candidates and organizations. In 2010, he joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet's "giving pledge". He publicly committed to giving the majority of his wealth for charitable causes and becoming a philanthropist.

"When you create wealth in a short time, you think about philanthropy as you think about a business." -Pierre Omidyar

Pierre Omidyar - Education

Pierre completed his elementary studies from Punahou School in Honolulu and he currently serves on its Board of Trustees. He took a great interest in computers while studying in 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.

Pierre Omidyar - Professional Life

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. However, his startup was later re-branded as an e-commerce firm with the new name of eShop Incorporation. The company was acquired by Microsoft on 11 June, 1996 for less than $50 million and he earned $1 million from the deal.

Pierre Omidyar- Founder of eBay

eBay logo
eBay logo

Pierre established his e-commerce company, eBay in 1995. The company is headquartered in San Jose, California. At age 28, he started coding for an online venture that would enable a direct person-to-person auction for collectable items. On 4 September 1995, he launched the online auction service called Auction Web which eventually became the auction site eBay.

By 1996, he signed a licensed deal of selling airline tickets online. It hosted two million auctions within the first month. By 1997, he renamed the company from Auction Web to eBay and was strategic enough with effective advertising.

He served as the Chairman of the company from 1998 to 2015. He also served as the Board member of eBay till 2020. Omidyar was named under the billionaires after eBay launched its IPO Β successfully 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. In 2020, he stepped down from the Board of eBay owing to his involvement of a broader overhaul of the company. At eBay, he will continue to serve as director emeritus, which is an honorary title.

Pierre Omidyar - Founder of Omidyar Network

Omidyar network Logo
Omidyar network Logo

Pierre and his wife, Pamela established his philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network in 2004. The organization aims at improving the lives of people by creating opportunities and enhancing the power of markets. It basically invests in innovative organizations to beget economic, social and political change.

Reportedly, it has committed more than $992 million to nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies that stimulate economic advancement and revitalize individual participation across multiple investment areas.

Mr. and Mrs. Omidyar along with Richard Branson had established the Nduna Foundation (Founder- Amy Robbins), Enterprise Zimbabwe in 2010. He further established Luminate, a global philanthropic organization in 2018. After governing it for ten years, Omidyar separated the organization into a separate unit.

Pierre Omidyar - Founder of Honolulu Civil Beat

Honolulu Civil Beat
Honolulu Civil Beat

Pierre has been involved in online journalism since 2010, Β and he is serving as the head of investigative reporting and public affairs news service, Honolulu Civil Beat which covered civic affairs in Hawaii. The venture later partnered with HuffPost with the latest weblog regional addition, HuffPost Hawaii. Starting a media company of his own and providing people with real facts was his aim.

The news outlet is all about providing people all the news related to public affairs. All the public issues that outlet report has only one aim and that is to educate people Β and the community and make them aware of all kind of situations.

Pierre Omidyar - Founder of First Look Media

First Look Media Logo
First Look Media Logo

Pierre Omidyar founded this media organisation in the year 2013 with the only goal in his mind to empower independent journalists and make their voices heard. It is a nonprofit organisation that focuses on investigative journalism and documentary filmmaking.

Omidyar started this project and promised to provide funds of $250 million and decided to aid different publications. The organisation started the journey of supporting publications by launching The Intercept. Not only that, First Look Media started producing podcasts as well.

Omidyar focus through First Look Media was to hold the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Pierre Omidyar decided to develop the organisation in such a way that the media will provide information to the audience in a way of storytelling.

Pierre Omidyar - Honors & Awards

  • Received the Honorary doctorate from Tufts University in 2011
  • Bestowed with the EY Entrepreneur of The Year National Winner in 1999
  • Conferred with the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 2000
  • He was named the 2018's Third Most Influential French Entrepreneur by Richtopia

FAQ

What is the Net worth of eBay owner Pierre Omidyar?

As of 2021, the net worth of Pierre Omidyar is $21.4billion.

Pierre Omidyar is the founder of what ecommerce platform?

Pierre Omidyar co-founded a pen-based computing startup, Ink Development in 1991. However, his startup was later re-branded as an e-commerce firm with the new name of eShop Incorporation.

Why did Pierre Omidyar create eBay?

Pierre Omidyar created an online auction site to help his wife trade and collect Pez candy dispensers.

How does eBay make money?

eBay makes its money from the section on transaction fees, which it applies to sellers.

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