Real Leaders

Pierre Morad Omidyar: Founder of eBay

Pierre Morad Omidyar, born June 21, 1967, is a French-born Iranian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder of the eBay auction site where he served as chairman from 1998 to 2015.

Omidyar was born in Paris, the son of Iranian immigrant parents who had been sent to France by their parents to attend university. He was given the name of Parviz by his Iranian parents. His mother, Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar, is an academic and his father, a surgeon, worked as a urologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Due to his father’s work the family moved to the United States when Omidyar was a child.

His interest in computers began while he was a ninth-grade student. He graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School  in 1984 and from Tufts University in Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts, with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1988. Shortly after, he went to work for Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary, where he worked on the team that upgraded MacDraw to MacDraw II. In 1991, he co-founded Ink Development, a pen-based computing startup that later was rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop.

In 1995, at the age of 28, Omidyar began to write the original computer code for an online location that enabled the listing of a direct person-to-person auction for collectible items. He created a simple prototype on his personal web page, and on Labor Day, he launched an online service called Auction Web, which eventually became the auction site eBay.

In 1998, eBay launched a successful public offering, making Omidyar a billionaire. As of July 2008, Omidyar’s 178 million eBay shares were worth around $4.45 billion. Omidyar is also an investor of Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, California. Additionally, Omidyar is also a member of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council.

In 2013, prompted by the Edward Snowden leaks, Omidyar announced the creation of First Look Media – a venue for “original, independent journalism.”


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