Wednesday, April 18, 2012

100 Days of Gratitude - Day 25: Pierre Omidyar

Pierre Omidyar
"This could be just like eBay.  You should do it."

Well, it didn't turn out exactly like eBay, but it has turned out pretty well.

About a dozen years ago, Esther Dyson invited me to one of her famous PC Forum Conferences, and she introduced me to Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.

At that time, I was considering leaving the World Bank to start what is now GlobalGiving with Mari.  Although I was excited, I was also scared to death - I couldn't decide whether the whole idea was brilliant or incredibly naive.  Pierre listened to what I was considering and immediately told me to do it.

"People also told me that eBay would never work," he said.  "They were certain that total strangers would never trust each other enough to buy and sell things over the internet. But they were wrong. You have to do this, Dennis."

As I look back over a decade later, I realize how important that early conversation was to me.  Pierre and Pam Omidyar provided an initial small grant to help us with start-up costs, and then they provided significantly more resources for scaling up through his Omidyar Network.  Thanks to that support, GlobalGiving has now reached scale and financial sustainability.  We have helped mobilize about $100 million, with hundreds of thousands of individual donors and innovative companies supporting 6,000 projects in over 130 countries.

For all of that, Pierre, and especially for that initial conversation, I am grateful.