Person

Pierre Omidyar

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Pierre Omidyar is the founder of the multinational e-commerce corporation eBay, a philanthropist, and a financier of left-wing organizations, including investigative journalism projects. Omidyar is a funder of left-wing politics; as such, he gave $100,000 to the NeverTrump PAC, a group opposed to 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.[1]  Omidyar is a donor to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Early Life and Career

Pierre Omidyar was born on June 21, 1967 to Iranian parents in Paris, France. His family immigrated to the United States due to his father’s work. He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1988.

In 1995, Omidyar opened Auction Web, which would later become eBay. [2] Omidyar became a billionaire when eBay became a publicly traded company in the fall of 1998. Omidyar resigned as chairman of the board in 2015.

Liberal Journalism

Omidyar has used some of his wealth to fund journalism ventures. In October 2013, Omidyar pledged $250 million to found First Look Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that publishes a number of online left-wing media publications.[3] [4]

The Intercept, First Look Media’s first publication, was launched in February 2014. Controversial left-wing journalist Glenn Greenwald is one of the website’s editors. Gawker editor John Cook joined as editor-in-chief of the website in March 2014.[5] The Intercept’s original staff, including Greenwald, were involved in the disclosure of classified national security documents by onetime National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who later fled to Russia.[6]

First Look Media also publishes the websites Field of Vision (a documentary project), The NIB (a comic site), and Topic (an entertainment and culture site).[7]

In 2017, Omidyar pledged $100 million to fight so-called “fake news.”[8] The money will reportedly be used to support investigative journalism.

Democracy Fund

Also see Democracy Fund (Nonprofit)

In 2011, Omidyar founded the Democracy Fund, a 501(c)(3) private foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C. In a March 2013 article in the Huffington Post, Omidyar stated part of his reason for creating the Fund as “support[ing] social entrepreneurs and others working to directly address the conditions that threaten the ability of our government to represent the public’s highest interests, to retain the public’s trust, and to meet the many great challenges that we face.[9] Joe Goldman is president of the Democracy Fund.[10]

The Fund calls itself “bipartisan,” and distributes grants and funds various political and journalism groups including the Aspen Institute, Millennial Action Project, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse, according to its website.[11] Data from the website Foundation Search shows nearly $8.9 million in 46 grants in 2015, many of which went to left-wing organizations. Some of the 2015 grantees include the Bipartisan Policy Center, Pew Charitable Trusts, Proteus Fund, Democracy Works, Knight Foundation, Free Press, Public Citizen Foundation, and New Venture Fund.[12]

Omidyar also founded Democracy Fund Voice, a 501(c)(4) “sister organization” to Democracy Fund. The organization’s website notes it “is solely funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam,” and its 2016 Form 990 federal filing shows $5,510,000 in contributions from Omidyar. The organization’s filings also note it has a “cost-sharing agreement” with Democracy Fund. [13]

The organization’s Form 990 filing for 2016 lists one of its principal projects as supporting “organizations that educate, register, and activate voters,” but claims it does not “support efforts or organizations that endorse candidates.”[14]

Democracy Fund Voice notes that it has funded politically active groups, including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, Stand Up Republic, Human Rights First, New America, Faith and Public Dialogue, Institute for Social Policy Understanding, and ReThink Media.[15] Its Form 990 for 2016 also shows grants to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and Vote.org (a 501(c)(3) voter mobilization nonprofit). [16]

Omidyar Network

Also see Omidyar Network Fund (Nonprofit)

The Omidyar Network Fund is a Redwood City, California-based 501(c)(3) foundation created in 2004 that serves as Omidyar’s primary philanthropic vehicle. It is closely connected to the Omidyar Network, a for-profit venture capital LLC that makes grants to “companies focused on social change” through its 501(c)(3) affiliate.[17] As of 2014, the Network had nearly $322 million in assets, and in that year distributed $45 million in grants.[18]

The Omidyar Network is a major funder of the Sunlight Foundation—a left-leaning nonprofit also funded by liberal foundations like the Rockefeller Family Fund, Knight Foundation, and Bloomberg Family Foundation—giving the group over $17 million in 9 grants between 2007 and 2013.[19] [20] Other grant recipients include the Tides Foundation, Tides Center, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and the Brennan Center for Justice.[21]

Political Activity

Omidyar has given $213 million to various causes, many of which are active in left-wing politics. Among those groups that have been funded are the Open Society Foundations, the Tides Foundation, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Center for Responsive Politics.[22]

Omidyar has also donated to Democratic Party candidates. During the Democratic Party presidential primaries in 2008, he donated to the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Ahead of the 2016 election, it was reported that Omidyar and his wife have donated $200,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $150,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “over the years.”[23]

References

  1. Dunbar, John, Michael Beckel, and Carrie Levine. 2016. “Pierre Omidyar Gives $100,000 To New Anti-Trump Super PAC”. Center For Public Integrity. Accessed January 2 2018. https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/04/15/19564/pierre-omidyar-gives-100000-new-anti-trump-super-pac.
  2. “Pierre Omidyar Biography — Academy Of Achievement”. 2018. Web.Archive.Org. Accessed January 2 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20161202080148/http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/omi0bio-1.
  3. “The Extraordinary Promise of the New Greenwald-Omidyar Venture (UPDATED).” Columbia Journalism Review. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://archives.cjr.org/the_audit/the_extraordinary_promise_of_t.php.
  4. “Here’s Who’s Backing Glenn Greenwald’s New Website”. 2013. Huffpost. Accessed January 2 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/glenn-greenwald-pierre-omidyar_n_4103026.html.
  5. Kafka, Peter. “Gawker’s John Cook Joins First Look Media.” Recode. March 10, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.recode.net/2014/3/10/11624362/gawkers-john-cook-joins-first-look-media.
  6. Gallagher, Ryan. “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware.” The Intercept. March 12, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://theintercept.com/2014/03/12/nsa-plans-infect-millions-computers-malware/.
  7. “First Look Media.” First Look Media. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://firstlook.media/.
  8. “Forbes Welcome”. 2018. Forbes.Com. Accessed January 2 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/katevinton/2017/04/05/billionaire-pierre-omidyars-foundation-commits-100-million-to-support-investigative-journalism/#260dcbc369f6.
  9. Omidyar, Pierre. “Why I Created the Democracy Fund.” The Huffington Post. March 18, 2013. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/pierre-omidyar/the-democracy-fund_b_2489430.html.
  10. “Democracy Fund.” DemocracyFund. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.democracyfund.org.
  11. “Our Priorities.” DemocracyFund. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.democracyfund.org/priorities.
  12. “Grant Visualizer: Democracy Fund.” Foundation Search. Accessed March 28, 2018. www.foundationsearch.com.
  13. Democracy Fund Voice, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016, Part III Line 4b.
  14. Democracy Fund Voice, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016, Part III Line 4b.
  15. “Civil Politics.” Democracy Fund Voice. Accessed March 28, 2018. http://democracyfundvoice.org/our-work/civil-politics/.
  16. Democracy Fund Voice, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016, Part I.
  17. Guth, Robert A. “EBay Founder’s Philanthropic Firm to Donate More.” The Wall Street Journal. October 22, 2008. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122463722341457039?mod=todays_us_page_one.
  18. Omidyar Network, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Part III Line 4b.
  19. Omidyar, Pierre. “Why I Created the Democracy Fund.” The Huffington Post. March 18, 2013. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/pierre-omidyar/the-democracy-fund_b_2489430.html.
  20. “Grant Visualizer: Sunlight Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed March 28, 2018. www.foundationsearch.com.
  21. Maghami, Neil. “The Philanthropy of Pierre Omidyar, the EBay Billionaire.” Capital Research Center (Foundation Watch, June 2014). June 2, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/omidyar_ebay/.
  22. “Soros Clones: 5 Liberal Mega-Donors Nearly As Dangerous As George Soros”. 2014. Media Research Center. Accessed January 2 2018. https://www.mrc.org/special-reports/soros-clones-5-liberal-mega-donors-nearly-dangerous-george-soros.
  23. Dunbar, John, Michael Beckel, and Carrie Levine. 2016. “Pierre Omidyar Gives $100,000 To New Anti-Trump Super PAC”. Center For Public Integrity. Accessed January 2 2018. https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/04/15/19564/pierre-omidyar-gives-100000-new-anti-trump-super-pac.
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