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Pierre Omidyar Invests $50 Million in First Look Media

The eBay founder's new media organization, First Look Media, just landed $50 million to expand journalistic freedom.
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Pierre Omidyar, the philanthropist and billionaire founder of eBay, is pulling back the curtain on his latest venture, a new media company which he first announced in October.

Omidyar announced Thursday in a blog post the company's name, First Look Media, and said he had invested $50 million to get the venture off the ground.

Led by Glenn Greenwald, the esteemed investigative journalist who first broke the NSA spying scandal in The Guardian this summer, First Look Media will cover a range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, and technology, but with an emphasis on journalistic freedom and investigative reporting.

"I am deeply committed to the long-‐term effort to build a new and exciting platform for journalism," Omidyar wrote on his blog, "one that not only provides the innovation and infrastructure journalists need to do their best work, but that brings their reporting and storytelling to the widest possible audience." First Look Media will set up offices in New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

A Closer Look

According to the post, First Look Media will be a hybrid organization, comprised of a for-profit media technology company and a non-profit journalism organization. The hope is that revenue from the for-profit company will be able to fund First Look's team of journalists. In other words, Omidyar seems to be avoiding the advertising-sponsored model that troubles so many media outlets.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of talking to Omidyar for a story in Inc.'s December issue. As he recalled his years at eBay, Omidyar said that the greatest thing any leader can do is empower other people around him. That, in fact, was the inspiration for eBay, itself.

"I thought, There's a real opportunity to create a marketplace that could bring the power of efficient markets to regular people," he told me of his initial "aha moment" back in 1995.

Then when eBay went public and turned Omidyar into a billionaire overnight, he said he considered it less a privilege than a responsibility. As he put it to me: "All I could think was, I'm now the steward of a fortune. How do I make sure this gets put to good use?"

Since then, Omidyar has donated and invested more than $1 billion to create opportunity for others, whether it's through for-profit microfinance organizations or non-profits like Humanity United, which aims to end human trafficking worldwide. As the media landscape continues to change, Omidyar's promise of offering journalists editorial freedom at First Look Media seems just the latest step in his lifelong pursuit of global empowerment.

IMAGE: Michael Lewis
Last updated: Dec 19, 2013




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