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Hey, Pierre, Over Here


A few years ago, when everyone was “rich,” or thought they soon would be, Paul Saffo, head of the Institute for the Future, joked that family foundations were the latest thing in Silicon Valley chic.
He was right. So was the inference that savvy readers (cough, cough) drew as they quietly acknowledged that fashions change. What’s hot today might not be so in a few months.

That’s probably not what’s going on with today’s news that the Omidyar Foundation, started by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, will be scaling back. Instead, Omidyar is planning something bigger, a network.
He’s now planning to invest in companies that want to foster social change. The foundation, according to the terse press release up at the former full-on foundation site, will be part of the larger investment network. There will still be charitable work, it just won’t stand alone.
Omidyar is playing his cards close at this point. But consider this: as a 501(3)c, the Omidyar Foundation can’t do a lot of political work. It can’t lobby, endorse candidates, give to politicians. But, as a business, it can. A well-known and generous philanthropist, Omidyar may have decided he needs more reach – clearly his web log is showing a stronger interest in politics.
I’ve written here again and again about Progressive Libertarians, their respect for corporate structure as the most effecient way to do things, about their strong desire to foster social improvement and their determination. Welcome, Pierre. I have a funny feeling I know where you’re going.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 1:15 PM | Permalink

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