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If you like Pierre Omidyar's story, you might also like:
Timothy Berners-Lee,
Jeffrey Bezos,
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Michael Dell,
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Bill Gates,
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Pierre Omidyar
Pierre Omidyar
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Pierre Omidyar Interview (page: 8 / 8)

Founder and Chairman, eBay

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  Pierre Omidyar

What do you think about the impact of the Internet boom on the communities in which these companies operate?

Pierre Omidyar: Yeah. You know, in Silicon Valley it is -- I think there has been a big problem in the last few years. Public servants like police officers and firemen, teachers and so forth cannot live in the communities that they serve. They can't afford to own a home, much less even rent a home in those communities. They drive two hours to get to work every day. And when you have your community beat cop police officer, you know, not being a part of your community, that's bad. That really hurts. Not to mention other -- you know, other service workers and, you know, other lower wage earners that have just had to leave. That's a problem. That's a serious problem.

Looking ahead into the 21st Century, what do you see happening in your field?

Pierre Omidyar: I'm very excited by the prospect of what we haven't seen yet. The web was invented in '93. People graduating from college this year entered college with the web. In just a matter of years people graduating from college will have entered high school with the web, and it will have existed as part of their being.

I'm too old for that. I grew up in the software world. I grew up in a technology environment but it was all about building software packages that can solve people's problems and change the world. Now kids are growing up and going into the work force with the background of growing up with the web, with a global communication medium that is interactive, that people can congregate around. I think it is exciting to see what kinds of ideas they will come up with, things the world has never seen before. That is what I'm waiting for.

What are your hopes for this world, as you look ahead, beyond what you do?

Pierre Omidyar: Beyond technology? It very much dovetails with what we are trying to do with our philanthropy.

If we can help people reconnect with their communities, I think we can work together as a global community and solve the world's problems. You know, it's a bit idealistic, but we're really looking for second order effects in what we're doing. In other words, if we can just get people to just reconnect with their community. Just realize that you're an individual, but you have a responsibility to be part of your community, and that responsibility is not just a burden, but it also comes with benefits that are real tangible benefits that you'll see, being a part of that community. Then just think, if everyone thought like that, you could actually tackle local community problems, homelessness, health care. I mean, just serious problems, and you could tackle global problems as well, because we now have -- again we have a global communications medium, and communities are being built, not just in the real world but in the virtual world as well. So I'm very hopeful that the reconnection with community that I -- actually, frankly, I first became passionate about it because of eBay -- because I saw it happen on eBay, I am very hopeful that that reconnection is going to dramatically improve the world.

[ Key to Success ] The American Dream

If eBay had not happened, what would you be doing? What would have become of you?

Pierre Omidyar: I wouldn't be having as much fun. That's for sure.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.

Of course. Thank you.

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