Friday, January 27, 2012

Pierre Omidyar

Pierre Morad Omidyar (born June 21, 1967) is a French-Iranian American entrepreneur and philanthropist/economist, and the founder/chairman of the eBay auction site. Omidyar and his wife Pam are well-known philanthropists who founded Omidyar Network in 2004 in order to expand their efforts beyond non-profits to include for-profits and public policy.

Personal Life
Omidyar was born in Paris, France to Iranian immigrant parents who had been sent by his grandparents to attend university there. His mother Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar, who did her doctorate in linguistics at the Sorbonne, is herself a well-known academic. His father was a surgeon. The family moved to the US when Omidyar was six.

Pierre grew up in Washington, D.C., where he attended the Potomac School. Pierre's interest in computers began at one of the Punahou School, Honolulu, HI computer labs in the 9th Grade, where he spent "hours there, interacting with the bigger kids, learning from them, and then trying new things." He attended St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. He graduated from St. Andrew's in 1984, and in 1988, he graduated with a degree in computer science from Tufts University. Shortly after, Omidyar went to work for Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary, where he helped write MacDraw. In 1991 he co-founded Ink Development, a pen-based computing startup that was later rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop.

eBay and later career
Omidyar was 28 when he sat down over a long holiday weekend to write the original computer code for what eventually became an internet superbrand — the auction site eBay. The site was launched on Labor Day, Monday, September 4, 1995, as "Auction Web"; it was hosted on a site Omidyar had created for information on the ebola virus. The word 'eBay' was made up on the fly by Omidyar when he was told that his first choice for his web site, 'echobay,' had already been registered. Not wanting to make a second trip to Sacramento, he came up with 'eBay.' 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. Auction Web was later renamed "eBay". The service was free at first, but started charging in order to cover internet service provider costs.

Jeffrey Skoll joined the company in 1996. In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as President and CEO and continued to run 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. As of July 2008[update], Omidyar's 178 million eBay shares were worth around $4.45 billion. Omidyar is also an investor of Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, California.

In 2010, Omidyar launched an online news service in Honolulu called Civil Beat that covers civic affairs in Hawaii.

According to Forbes, as of 6th March 2011, Pierre Omidyar is the 145th richest person in the world. He is the third richest person of Iranian descent. Pallonji Mistry at US$ 8.8 Billion (103 on Forbes List) is the richest person of Iranian descent followed by Adi Godrej at US$ 7.3 Billion (130 on Forbes List). Both are Parsi Zoroastrians of Iranian descent.

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