Honolulu, HI

The Honolulu billionaire giving away his fortune

Ash Jurberg

In the hope of spreading good news to readers, I have been writing a series of articles on business leaders and entrepreneurs who have been giving back to the community.

Today I wanted to shine the spotlight on a Honolulu billionaire who has given so much back to the city.

Let's take a look at his story.

The Honolulu billionaire

Pierre Omidyar was born in 1967 in France to Iranian parents and moved to the USA when he was six years old. He attended Punahou School in Honolulu before his family moved to Virginia.

His break came in 1995 when he launched an online service called Auction Web, now known as the online auction site- eBay. As we all know, eBay became a hugely successful business, and in 2002 Omidyar added to the success by purchasing the online payment company PayPal.

Omidyar is a resident of Honolulu and has invested in the local economy. In 2010, Omidyar launched Honolulu Civil Beat, which covers local and civic affairs in Hawaii. It was named Best News Website in Hawaii three years in a row and has since started a partnership with HuffPost to produce HuffPost Hawaii.

At present, Omidyar owns 5% of eBay and 6% of PayPal, which has led to Omidyar having a current net worth of $10.4 billion.

And he has promised to give most of it away.


In 2004, Omidyar founded the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm that "focuses on increasing access and addressing inequities through innovative long-term solutions that empower individuals, cultivate accountable and adaptive institutions, and build healthier societies." 

We don’t just write checks; we engage deeply with the organizations we support to help them reach and improve the lives of millions, not just thousands. We invest in for profit businesses that serve overlooked populations with much-needed products and services. We reach out to like-minded investors and advocates to form coalitions that support issues that will benefit from a unified voice.

2009 saw a $50 million commitment from Omidyar to the Honolulu-based Hawaii Community Foundation. It was used to establish the Omidyar Ohana Fund, which will support the Omidyars' philanthropic interests and community initiatives in Honolulu and across Hawaii.

Six million of this went to Omidyar's former school, Punahou.

In 2010, Omidyar signed the Giving Pledge. This was a public promise to give away the majority of his wealth while he was still alive.

And Omidyar has been determined to do this. So in 2018, Omidyar launched Luminate, another philanthropic organization that has given away $326 million since its launch. In addition, so far, Omidyar Network has committed over $1.64 billion million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations.

Readers, what do you think of Omidyar's charity? And what Honolulu organizations would you like to see him support?

Please leave your comments below.

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