Pierre Omidyar, the famed French-Iranian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been generating plenty of media buzz. The latest business venture for the creator of eBay is First Look Media--an organization for investigative journalism--which includes such journalists as Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and (until recently,) Matt Taibbi. Omidyar is also known for being reclusive: he currently lives in Hawaii, and has mostly backed away from Silicon Valley and its limelight.
When vocal, however, Omidyar is passionate about topics including national security, democracy, and giving back to the community. He had been an avid supporter of Barack Obama's presidency--up until the National Security Agency's surveillance programs came to light, that is, when he tweeted his outrage at the president directly.
From philosophical musings to political views and more, Inc. has gathered some of Omidyar's most notable quotes to date. Without further ado:
1. "In Silicon Valley, we say if you haven't tried something and failed, and actually learned something from that failure, then why would I want to work with you?"
--Omidyar was the keynote speaker at the November 2011 Conference of Nonprofit Communities of Hawaii.
2. "If you think 'I've got nothing to hide' is good basis for security policy, you've never been racially profiled or walked into [the] wrong church."
--Omidyar sounded off on Twitter in September 2013, after Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing that the NSA was collecting Americans' phone records.
3. "Mr. President, look in the mirror: when did America become a country to seek asylum from? Whistleblowers are not spies."
--Omidyar remains vocal on Twitter, offering his views about politics, security, and more, as in this June, 2013 comment directed at President Obama.
4. "If you give people the opportunity to do the right thing, you'll rarely be disappointed."
--In an October 2011 interview with the Huffington Post, Omidyar discussed his belief in the inherent goodness of people.
5. "Long-term sustainable change happens if people discover their own power."
6. "You may have noticed that I do like to fly under the radar. When I walk around town, the only people I want to recognize me and call me by name are the folks at Starbucks and Jamba Juice."
--When asked about his visibility, Omidyar told the Honolulu Advertiser in March 2009 that he prefers to keep to himself.
7. "What makes eBay successful--the real value and the real power at eBay--is the community. It's the buyers and sellers coming together and forming a marketplace."
8. "I have always been of the opinion that the right kind of journalism is a critical part of our democracy."
--He explained to Jay Rosen why he decided to launch First Look Media, in an October 2013 interview with PressThink.
9. "I'm a technologist by origin and by training, but I'm focused on philanthropy."
--Omidyar spoke to the New York Times' David Carr in October, 2013.
10. "In the early days of eBay, I articulated for the very first time this belief that people are basically good."
--In a November 2008 interview with Forbes, Omidyar expressed what he sees as the cornerstone of eBay.