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Pierre Omidyar
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Pierre Omidyar

Pierre Omidyar (born 21 June, 1967) is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, and the founder and chairman of the eBay auction site. Born in Paris, France to a French-Iranian family, Omidyar moved to the US at the age of 6. Growing up in Washington, D.C, he developed an interest in computing while still at high school. In 1988 he graduated in computer science from Tufts University, and joined Claris, an Apple 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).

Omidyar started eBay in 1995 as a part-time hobby - supposedly to help in his fiancée's PEZ dispenser collection. Initially called AuctionWeb, it was later renamed after the site's domain name ebay.com (a shortening of Echo Bay, Omidyar's consulting firm). The service was free at first, but started charging in order to cover ISP costs. In 1996 Jeff Skoll, a Stanford MBA, joined the company and by 1998 eBay had gone public, making Omidyar a billionaire.

Omidyar and his wife Pam are well-known philanthropists.