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Has Anyone Seen Pierre Omidyar?

Pierre Omidyar, who is primarily holed up in New Zealand, has been signaling that he is planning to scale back his political and philanthropic giving. Photo: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
June 20, 2023

It’s something of an inside joke in philanthropy circles that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, every few years, seems to go through some sort of half-baked pseudo-philosophical reassessment of his priorities and role in the world. He’ll spin out a new organization or two in a restructuring, or decide to go after Mark Zuckerberg and bankroll a Facebook whistleblower, or even just delete his Twitter account—seemingly impulsive decisions usually dressed up in some bullshit-laden, cringeworthy, MBA-strategy gobbledygook about the complex challenges of the world and the systemic changes needed to fix them.

Now, I’m told, the more-reclusive-than-ever multi-billionaire is making another major pivot. Omidyar, who is primarily holed up these days in New Zealand, has recently been sending word to the network of organizations that depend on his support that he is planning to scale back his political and philanthropic giving, perhaps dramatically. The network of organizations, part of a constellation called The Omidyar Group, have received almost all of their funding to date from Pierre and his wife, Pam. Without their largesse, these nonprofit and for-profit companies, each of which have received hundreds of millions of dollars from the Omidyars over the last decade or two, will possibly be forced to scramble to find alternate funding to remain operational. “The folks I have heard from in several of the orgs are worried, some freaked,” said one person close with leaders at multiple Omidyar groups.