On Labor Day 1995, Pierre Omidyar launched eBay as an experiment. He wondered, "What would happen within a marketplace if everyone had equal access to information and tools? Would a level playing field enable individuals to compete alongside big businesses? What if members managed their own transactions and accountability?" At the time, Pierre didn't know the answers to his own questions. Today, his experiment continues to prove the benefits of an open and honest environment. Hundreds of thousands of members make their living entirely on eBay and enjoy the freedome of owning a business. More than 150 million people trust strangers with every transaction. Strangers find common ground where none seemed to exist before.
After eBay's success and its IPO in 1998, Pierre, along with his wife, Pam, co-founded the Omidyar Foundation to fund nonprofits. Yet eBay's tremendous social impact as a for-profit company was demonstrating that business could also be an effective tool for making the world a better place. In response, they broadened their scope in 2004 and formed a new entity, Omidyar Network, to invest in for-profit, nonprofit and public policy efforts. To date, the Network has funded a number of areas that leverage transparent, collaborative and bottom-up approaches so that "more and more people discover their own power to make good things happen." Those areas include microfinance, citizen journalism, open source, representative government and elections, and intellectual property commons, among others. Over the next five years, the organization plans to invest $400 million across sectors and seek out financially self-sustaining models that can only be successful by having a social impact.
Pierre graduated from Tufts University in 1988 with a B.S. in computer science. He then joined Claris, a subsidiary of Apple Computer, as a consumer software engineer. Next, he co-founded Ink Development Corp., later renamed eShop and acquired by Microsoft. Today, Pierre serves as a trustee of Tufts University and the Santa Fe Institute, a Director of Meetup, Inc., Chairman of eBay Inc. and CEO of Omidyar Network.