Jeffrey Skoll

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Jeffrey Skoll
Jeff Skoll 2013 (5576999744).jpg
In 2013
Born(1965-01-16) January 16, 1965 (age 49)
Montreal, Quebec
ResidenceWoodside, California
OccupationFormer President of eBay
Net worthIncreaseUS$ 3.8 billion (Sept 2013)[1]
 
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Jeffrey Skoll
Jeff Skoll 2013 (5576999744).jpg
In 2013
Born(1965-01-16) January 16, 1965 (age 49)
Montreal, Quebec
ResidenceWoodside, California
OccupationFormer President of eBay
Net worthIncreaseUS$ 3.8 billion (Sept 2013)[1]

Jeffrey Skoll, OC (born January 16, 1965) is a Canadian engineer, internet entrepreneur and film producer. He is currently based in Los Angeles, California.[1] With an estimated net worth of $US 3.8 billion (as of September 2013), Skoll was ranked by Forbes as the 7th wealthiest Canadian and 347th in the world.[2]

He was the first employee and also first president of internet auction firm eBay, and used the wealth this gave him to become a philanthropist, particularly through the Skoll Foundation, and his media company Participant Media.

Early life[edit]

Jeff Skoll was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada into a Jewish family,[3][4] his mother a teacher[5] and his father a chemical company owner who sold industrial chemicals.[6] The family settled in Toronto in the late seventies.

When Jeff Skoll was fourteen his father was diagnosed with cancer which prompted him to discuss with his son how much he regretted not having had the time to do everything he had planned in life. A keen reader, Skoll was influenced by authors such as Aldous Huxley and Ayn Rand and intended to become an author writing motivational books and books on tackling the world's problems.[citation needed]

He graduated with a BASc with honors in 1987 from the University of Toronto's electrical engineering program. While an undergraduate student, he co-edited the engineering students' satirical newspaper The Toike Oike. He paid his way through college by pumping gas in North York, Ontario. After graduating he backpacked around the world for several months before returning and founding two businesses in Toronto: Skoll Engineering, an information technology consulting firm and Micros on the Move Ltd., a computer rental firm.

He left Canada in 1993 to earn a Masters of Business Administration degree at Stanford Business School, graduating in 1995. After Stanford he went to work at Knight-Ridder where he was working on internet projects for the publishing company.

Skoll's eBay era[edit]

In 1996 Skoll met eBay's founder Pierre Omidyar who hired him as the company's first president and first full-time employee. While eBay was already profitable at the time Skoll joined, he wrote the business plan that eBay followed from its emergence as a start-up to a great success. He remained President until the arrival of Meg Whitman in January 1998 when he became Vice President, Strategic Planning and Analysis until back problems necessitated his departure from full-time employment at the company. In 1998, he championed the creation of the eBay Foundation which was allocated pre-IPO stock now worth $32 million. Once eBay's second largest stockholder, behind Omidyar, he subsequently cashed out a portion of his company holdings, yielding him around $2 billion.[5][7]

Participant Media[edit]

Skoll is also the founder, owner and chairman of Participant Media (formerly Participant Productions), a Los Angeles based media company he created to fund feature films and documentaries that promote social values while still being commercially viable. Its first three films were Syriana; Good Night, and Good Luck; and North Country, along with the documentary Murderball. These films accounted for 11 Oscar nominations in 2006.

Subsequent films have included An Inconvenient Truth, American Gun, Fast Food Nation, and The World According to Sesame Street. An Inconvenient Truth won two Oscars in 2007 and has been credited with extending the public debate over climate change. Other films in 2007 included Charlie Wilson's War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, The Kite Runner directed by Marc Forster, Angels in the Dust about an AIDS orphanage in South Africa, Darfur Now about the genocide in Darfur with Don Cheadle, and Man from Plains, a film about Jimmy Carter directed by Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme.

Films in 2008 included The Visitor, by Thomas McCarthy with Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass; Chicago 10, based on the 1968 Democratic convention protests; Standard Operating Procedure, a documentary about Abu Ghraib by Errol Morris; The Cove, a documentary about the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan; The Crazies, an updated version of the George A. Romero biotoxin thriller from 1973; and Pressure Cooker, a documentary about an inner-city school cooking contest, set in Philadelphia. One announced 2010 release, set for Earth Day on April 22, is Oceans, a documentary about the oceans by Jacques Perrin, director of the Oscar-winning Winged Migration.

Films in 2010 included Waiting for "Superman". In 2011, through a 50-50 partnership with Image Nation Abu Dhabi,[8] the company produced Contagion and The Help, both commercial successes and the latter getting multiple Oscar nominations, including best picture. In 2012, the company produced through its partnership with Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Participant Media produced Lincoln, which garnered 12 Oscar nominations including best picture for the producers.[9] The company has released 43 films and garnered 35 Oscar nominations, while contributing to social change.

The company also has publishing and television divisions, and operates Takepart.com, an online site catering to social activists.

Philanthropy[edit]

Skoll is a noted philanthropist and has been honoured many times for his generosity. He has given the eponymous Skoll Foundation approximately $1 billion of eBay stock since its formation in 1999. The Foundation supports "social entrepreneurship". Skoll chairs the Foundation and today makes grants in excess of $80 million per year. The Skoll Foundation's assets rank it as the largest foundation for social entrepreneurship in the world.

Skoll's largest charitable donation was a $30 million contribution to the Alliance for Climate Protection Campaign.

Skoll's recent honors and awards include The Producers Guild of America Visionary Award (2009), Time Magazine's 100 People of the Year (2006), Wired Magazine's Rave Award (2006), the National Leadership Award for Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley (2004) and the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (2003). In 2003, Skoll was the commencement speaker and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.

In addition, Skoll has financed The Gandhi Project in partnership with Relief International which created a dubbed version in Arabic of the film Gandhi. They used Palestinian voice actors and artists to make the film particularly relevant to Palestinians. With Skoll's support, it is being screened throughout Palestine to promote non-violence, self-reliance, economic development, and empowerment.

Other interests[edit]

Skoll owns a Tesla Roadster from Tesla Motors, a battery electric sportscar, the third Tesla off the line P2/VINF003.[10] He is also an investor in the company.

Honours[edit]

In 2011, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his generous commitment to social causes and for his innovative practice of philanthropy".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Forbes Billionaires: "Jeffrey Skoll" September 2013
  2. ^ Forbes
  3. ^ Calcalist.co.il
  4. ^ Biography, ,The History of Computing Project
  5. ^ a b "The thinking man's movie mogul", Telegraph Magazine 26 August 2006
  6. ^ Cohen, Adam, The Perfect Store: Inside Ebay, ISBN 0-316-16493-3
  7. ^ Malone, Michael S., "The indie movie mogul", Wired magazine, February 2006.
  8. ^ "Participant, Imagenation form $250 mln film-financing fund"
  9. ^ "Oscar nominations are not the goal: Participant Media CEO", Marketplace, February 21, 2013. Interview by Kai Ryssdal with Participant CEO Jim Berk. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  10. ^ Tesla Motors - press room

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
New title
Chief Executive Officer of eBay
1996 – 1998
Succeeded by
Meg Whitman
President of eBay
1996 – 1998