20 Fascinating Stories & Facts About Pierre Omidyar, The Founder Of eBay

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1. Pierre Omidyar, The Founder Of eBay

Pierre Morad Omidyar, recognized as the founder and chairperson of eBay, is also known as Parviz Morad Omidyar. He is not only the founder of eBay, but also a trustee of Tufts University, Santa Fe Institute, Punahou School and the Omidyar Foundation. He is a commissioner for President Barack Obama’s Commission on the White House Fellowships. He is also the CEO of a local news service in Hawaii “Honolulu Civil Beat”, which is targeted towards greater community participation.

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2. Pierre Omidyar, Born On 21 June, 1967

Pierre Omidyar was born on Wednesday June 21, 1967. Other famous personalities also share the same date of birth namely actors Michael Bowen, Michael Dolan and Nicole Kidman, as well as Prince William of Wales, son of Prince Charles & Lady Diana.

3. From ‘Auction Web’ in 1995 To eBay Today

One of Pierre’s early jobs was at General Magic. It was during this time that Pierre created his own auction website (hosted under a site that Omidyar had created for information on the ebola virus) and named it “AuctionWeb”. Later on, it evolved to eBay, although he originally intended to name it “Echo Bay” — but another company had already taken the .com domain name (i.e. the Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company at the time). eBay was made public on Labor Day during the year 1995. Today, eBay has over 250 million registered customers worldwide and on an average, it processes over one million online orders daily.

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4. Born To Iranian Immigrant Parents In Paris

Pierre Omidyar was born to Iranian immigrant parents in Paris, France. Both parents were sent to France by Pierre’s grandparents to complete their education. His mother had a doctorate in linguistics and his father was a surgeon. His parents were separated when he was two years old. From then on, he lived with his mother and spent weekends with his father.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 3 - Paris - People With Impact

5. Living In Many Cities Around The World

During childhood, Pierre moved from one place to another quite often. He was born in Paris. Then at the age of six, Pierre’s Family moved to Washington DC, when his father accepted a job and residency at Johns Hopkins University, Medical Center. He later moved to Hawaii, where he completed the eighth and ninth grade. He then returned to Washington, went to college in Boston and later moved to California where he founded eBay.

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Video: Interview In 2010



6. Pierre Omidyar Attended  St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland

Pierre graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland in 1984. Other notable alumni of St. Andrew’s include Joe Jacobi, Olympic gold medalist in white water canoeing, and actor and comedian Whitney Cummings (photo courtesy: St. Andrew’s Episcopal School).

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7. Pierre Attended  Tufts University To Get A Computer Science Degree

In 1988, Pierre got his degree in Computer Science from Tufts University. Tufts is ranked as number 15 in Forbes list of America’s Best Colleges. It is also ranked as number 32 amongst all educational institutions. Notable alumni from Tufts include Scott Brown, Republican ex- U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Roy Raymond, founder of Victoria’s Secret, Tracy Chapman, American singer/songwriter and Peter Gallagher, American actor. Pierre also got his honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service, from Tufts University in 2011.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 4 - Tufts University - eBay - People With Impact

8. Before eBay, Pierre Omidyar Co-founded eShop, Which Was Later Acquired By Microsoft

Pierre Omidyar worked for Claris, an off-spin of Apple Computer, where he contributed to drawing software MacDraw. In 1991, Pierre Omidyar co-founded ‘Ink Development Corporation’, which was later renamed ‘eShop’, as an eCommerce company. eShop was acquired by Microsoft in 1996.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 13 - Claris MacDraw - People With Impact

Video: Interview In 2012


9. Pierre Omidyar Is One Of The Richest Persons On Earth

In 2013, Pierre Omidyar is seen as the 141st richest person in the world and the 42nd richest person in the United States. He is also the richest Iranian person and the fifth richest amongst the French (2012-2013).

10. His Wife Pamela Wesley & The Pez Dispensers Story

Pierre married his university sweetheart Pamela Wesley who graduated in Biology. In a much hyped media story about the startup of eBay, it was believed that Pierre originally created the auction website eBay to help Pamela collect the famous Pez Candy Dispensers. However, it was later revealed that the media fabricated the story to create the eBay hype.

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11. One Of The First Items Sold on eBay? A Broken Laster Pointer

Do you know what the first item sold on eBay was? It was not a Pez dispenser, it was a broken laser pointer, sold by Pierre Omidyar for $14.83 on his site. Surprised by the purchase, Pierre decided to contact the buyer and ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. The buyer answered with: ‘Yes, it’s true, I am a collector of broken laser pointers’.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 6 - eBay Broken laser pointer - People With Impact

12. A Big Site Outage In 1999. Pierre, Meg Whitman & The eBay Team Called Up All Top Sellers

In 1999, eBay suffered severe service interruptions for over 22 hours: the eBay.com site went completely down. Pierre Omidyar, in order to maintain the existing customer base, took immediate steps together with eBay CEO, Meg Whitman. The company called the top 10,000 users and personally apologized for the interruption and assured them of satisfactory service and uptime going forward.

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13. Pierre Omidyar Will Donate Half of Of His Wealth To Good Causes

Pierre and Pamela Omidyar, along with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffet, became a part of the list of billionaires in 2010, who promised half of their wealth to philanthropic causes: The Giving Pledge.

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14. Pierre & Pamela Omidyar Fight Human Trafficking

Both Pierre and his wife Pamela are the biggest private contributors towards the eradication of human trafficking. To date they have invested $115 million to this cause in five different countries.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 8 - Pamela - People With Impact

15. Pierre & Pamela Omidyar Delivered the 2002 Commencement Speech At Tufts University

Being graduates of Tufts University, Pierre and Pamela were part of the Tufts University 146th commencement, marking the 150th anniversary of the university. Both husband and wife delivered the main Tufts commencement speech in 2002, titled “From Self to Society: Citizenship to Community for a World of Change” (photo courtesy: Tufts University).

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16. Passionate Interest in Little, Electronic Gadgets

Pierre Omidyar was interested in little gadgets during his childhood, especially calculators. He used to go shopping, in order to purchase calculators. Just as most children have a fascination with breaking things for no reason and then trying to fix them, Pierre was no different. However, he was never able to fix any of his gadgets.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 19 - Calculator eBay - People With Impact

Video: eBay Tv Ad In 2003


17. Graduating From Tufts University: A CGPA of 3.01

Pierre Omidyar was one of those students who never really studied but still went on to make a fortune. He never considered himself a good student though he passed with a CGPA of 3.01 from Tufts University.

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18. His Salary For His First Job? $6/Hour

Pierre Omidyar made his professional debut during his High School by making $6/hour. He simply used the computer to print library cards for the card catalogue.

19. Foundation Of The Omidar Network

The Omidyar Network, formed by Pierre and Pamela, donated $100 million to the institute from where they graduated, in order to create the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund. These funds were aimed at supporting university programs and the facilitation of the microfinance industry. Not only that, Pierre and his wife actively participate in philanthropic causes across the state of Hawaii, where they currently reside.

Pierre Omidyar Photo 18 - Omidyar Network - People With Impact

20. Received The Carnegie Medal Of Philanthropy Award

Pierre Omidyar and his wife have received a Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Award for their nonstop efforts to serve the community. They are one of the 11 recipients of the award, which tends to highlight the efforts of those people who have a lasting effect on their community (photo courtesy: Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy).


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