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Pierre Omidyar
Pierre Omidyar
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Pierre Omidyar Interview (page: 4 / 8)

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  Pierre Omidyar

Where did you grow up, and what you were like as a kid?

Pierre Omidyar: I was born in Paris, Paris, France. I lived there until I was six years old actually, and I went to bilingual school as I was growing up during that period so I learned English. And at age six moved to the United States, moved to the east coast of the U.S., Washington, D.C. area, and grew up in the D.C. area actually through high school. I had a brief stint actually in Hawaii in junior high school, eighth and ninth grades. Then back to the Washington, D.C. area, college in Boston and then after college moved to California. That's kind of a resume of where I've been.

The longest I was in one place was in college, four years. Before that it was the last three years of high school. Before that we were moving every two to three years. I wasn't part of a military family, which is usually the cause of that. It just kind of happened.

How did that affect you? All that moving around when you were growing up?

Pierre Omidyar: I didn't really realize until we moved after ninth grade -- which was my last year in Hawaii -- that I had missed people. In eighth and ninth grade, I had finally started to make some close friends in school, and leaving after ninth grade was kind of tough. It was tough for me personally. Before that it was just what I knew. It was the way I was raised and it was fine. There weren't a lot of kids around, and when I was younger I ended up hanging out with adults a lot more, because I had to. In retrospect I may have been cheated a little bit on the childhood side. I kind of grew up very quickly and became a little more mature more quickly than I see some of my relatives these days.

How would you describe yourself as a kid?

Pierre Omidyar: I was actually interested in gadgets, little electronic gadgets. Whether it was calculators -- actually I remember early on going out shopping for a calculator -- and this was when calculators were like $100, you know, I mean -- and with my dad, I think. And so I was always fascinated by these little gadgets and I always managed to break them for one reason or another, of course, as kids do, and then I would take them apart and try to fix them, which I was never able to.

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Do you recall early influences in your life? Who was important to you?

Pierre Omidyar Interview Photo
Pierre Omidyar: I think it's both my mom and my dad. They were separated when I was two, I think, but my dad was always part of my life. I lived with my mom, but my dad was always around. I remember when I was younger spending weekends with my dad, who is a surgeon and a medical doctor, doing rounds with him. We would spend maybe 45 minutes in the car going from one hospital to the next and we'd have some great conversations. That's one of my fond childhood memories.

What did you talk about?

Pierre Omidyar: My dad still does have a fascinating kind of grasp of all things, and we'd talk about history and art. When I say conversation, that's not quite accurate. It was mostly one way. Now that I'm older -- I'm 33 now -- I think if I was in his shoes I'd think, "This kid isn't hearing anything I'm saying," from my reaction. It's funny now that I look back on it, it was a precious time for me.

Were you a good student?

Pierre Omidyar: I was one of these guys that didn't really study, so I don't think I was a good student. I am very proud to say that I graduated from Tufts University with better than a 3.0 average. It was actually 3.01. During my entire four years there at Tufts my GPA improved every single semester, which gives you an idea of where I started. No, I was not a good student.

Were there any subjects you were particularly interested in? Any books that influenced or were important to you?

Pierre Omidyar Interview Photo
Pierre Omidyar: I've been asked before, "Who are your heroes?" and these types of questions. I always find it hard to identify a single person or a single book or this sort of thing. I've always been forward looking. I was raised with the notion that you can do pretty much anything you want. You're able to accomplish anything you set out to accomplish. I was given a sense of confidence and I never really felt the need to -- or I've never had the benefit, I should probably say -- of being inspired by outside heroes.

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This page last revised on Oct 20, 2010 00:15 EST
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