Pierre Omidyar is a French-born Iranian-American businessman with a net worth of $9.43 billion in January 2018. He is the founder and former chairman of Auction Website giant, eBay.
The 47-year-old billionaire Hawaii resident, who also is a co-founder of Honolulu Civil Beat, ranks No. 168 on the 2015 billionaire’s list in the world and is pegged at No. 58 in the United States.
Pierre Omidyar didn’t expect to make a dime-let alone become a billionaire-when he set up a small online auction on his private Web site. He just wanted to score some points with his girlfriend. But within five months, what had started out as a hobby had become a $3 billion empire with more than 2 million subscribers, and Omidyar found himself at the head of one of the most popular and profitable Web-based businesses in Internet history. And it all started with Pez dispensers.
Omidyar was born in Paris in 1967, but moved to Baltimore when his father began his medical residence at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. A precocious teen, he became interested in computers and would regularly sneak out of physical-education classes to play with his high school’s PCs. Rather than punish Omidyar for ditching class, the principal hired him to write a computer program to print catalog cards for the school library at $6 per hour. It wasn’t much, but it was a beginning.
Omidyar started his business venture when he co-founded Ink Development in 1991, which was later rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop. Four years later, he wrote an original computer code for an auction website which became known as eBay.
Aside from eBay, he launched an online investigative reporting news service, Honolulu Civil Beat which focused on Hawaii’s civic affairs in 2010. Three years later, the said website collaborated with The Huffington Post and created Huffpost Hawaii. Also, Omidyar announced his venture, First Look Media with The Intercept for its journalistic views
Omidyar built a philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network in 2004, along with his wife, Pam. Also, they formed Enterprise Zimbabwe along with Richard Branson and the Nduna Foundation.
Mr Omidyar recently told an audience of non-profit organisations in Hawaii that the success of his semi-regulated online marketplace, run largely on trust, had convinced him that “at the end of the day people are trying to do the right thing”. Since leaving the daily management of eBay in 1998, Mr Omidyar has used his fortune to try to do the right thing, too. He and Pam have donated more than $1bn to good causes.
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