Omidyar Network CEO opens up about VC-influenced philanthropy

In 2004, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, set aside some of the wealth they acquired after the online marketplace went public and created Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm “dedicated to harnessing the power of markets,” according to an official overview. Since then, the firm — which operates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and an LLC — has committed $839 million in nonprofit grants and $735 million in for-profit investments. Today, 60 employees in Mumbai, London, Washington D.C. and Redwood City look for opportunities to invest and contribute across four main areas: Reimagining Capitalism, Beneficial Technology, Discovering Emergent Issues, and Expanding Human Capability.

In 2018, coinciding with a strategic shift that saw Omidyar Network spin out several of its initiatives, the firm elevated to CEO Mike Kubzansky, who had started the firm’s Intellectual Capital arm. In a wide-ranging discussion, Scott Bade spoke to Kubzansky about Omidyar Network’s origins and evolution, and his approach to venture philanthropy.

Scott Bade: Omidyar Network has stood out because of its unique structure as both a grant-making institution and as an investor. Could you describe how Omidyar Network got started and how it evolved over the last decade and a half?

Mike Kubzansky: Pierre [Omidyar] originally started the Family Foundation. But having looked at the experience of eBay, he became frustrated that he couldn’t [achieve] the same scale of impact [that eBay had] in a conventional grant-making structure. So we converted Omidyar Family Foundation to Omidyar Network in 2004 with the fundamental insight to add to the classic 501(c)(3) structure of a foundation an LLC to enable us to invest in companies.. continue reading on techcrunch