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Sun Feb 9 2014 12:15:19

Will eBay Founder Omidyar's First Look Media Make Waves?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar is starting a news outlet called First Look Media. In the site's animated video, he describes it as "a new kind of marriage between a technology company and a new kind of newsroom," and that one of its goals will be to "make it easier for journalists to deliver the transformative stories we all need."

Omidyar is known as a philanthropist, and has put his money where his mouth is (in this case, he is reportedly investing $250 million in the First Look venture). His Omidyar Network - with its funding of many altruistic initiatives such as microfinance web site Kiva, and the open-government-promoting Sunlight Foundation, according to this piece in The Economist - "practises "venture philanthropy" - developing a non-profit start-up in the same way as a new business venture, except for not expecting it to make money one day."

One could arguably also say he is an optimist, as one of his founding tenets for eBay was that "people are basically good." And with his foray into media, he joins other ecommerce titans such as Jeff Bezos, who recently bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

But with his hiring of Glenn Greenwald, known as the reporter with the key to Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, for the First Look venture, he may also be showing he is not afraid of controversy. Snowden has been called everything from a hero to a traitor. And Snowden will be a key part of First Look's first digital magazine, launching next week: "The magazine, which will be the first in a series of single-topic online publications from First Look, will focus on Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks," according to this piece in AdWeek.

The title will apparently be announced via Twitter. Omidyar is no stranger to Twitter, and in fact his interest in journalism played out in a public Twitter debate about journalists' obligations to protect sources, and under what circumstances, summarized here via Pando.

While many hail Snowden and Greenwald as bravely exposing threats to our civil liberties and government over-spying, some see Snowden's actions as hypocritical and "with gravely destructive effect," such as Edward Lucas in this Wall Street Journal piece.

Even The Washington Post has published criticism of Snowden: He "has taken sanctuary in Russia, a country that, when it was under communist control, epitomized the idea of a surveillance state," and today "is a quasi-democracy that has retained some features of its communist past." And further "over the past decade or so, under the tutelage of President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, it has been sliding ever deeper back into authoritarianism."

And Robert Samuelson wrote that while we "should debate the NSA...The NSA controversy has "significantly damaged the trust between the private sector and government." This may be the Snowden affair’s most insidious (and overlooked) consequence."

The Snowden affair notwithstanding, Omidyar's new venture promises to be interesting. As Omidyar says in the First Look site video, "journalism is about telling stores that make a difference." And if the organization is successful, "we will have contributed to the greater good."

What do you think of this new media venture by eBay's founder? Post a comment here!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Sun Feb 9 14:01:35 2014

First Look Media = Tax Write-Off.

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This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Sun Feb 9 19:18:54 2014

Shame on Omidyar for not tearing up his noncompete to become ebay's biggest pain in the ass.

For that matter, shame on Google for backing away from GBay.  :(

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Feb 10 03:56:02 2014

All of Omidyar philanthropy doesn't make up for all the lives destroyed by having John Donahoe at the helm.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Feb 10 08:14:33 2014

Babybit says "All of Omidyar philanthropy doesn't make up for all the lives destroyed by having John Donahoe at the helm."

I could not agree more.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 11 09:49:31 2014

Is this one of those that as the saying goes ''more money than brains'' ?

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by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 11 14:47:50 2014

''All of Omidyar philanthropy doesn't make up for all the lives destroyed by having John Donahoe at the helm.''

Yes, I'll third this comment, in 100% agreement here.

I've always wondered how Omidyar could go out and help people yet sit on ebays board of directors and silently watch JD decimate so many ebay sellers livelihoods with his corporate greed philosophy.  

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by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 11 18:14:09 2014

"I've always wondered how Omidyar could go out and help people yet sit on ebays board of directors and silently watch JD decimate so many ebay sellers livelihoods with his corporate greed philosophy."

easy, he is not the same person he was 15 years ago (are any of us).  having so much money that you never have to worry about working again changes a person.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 11 18:25:17 2014

Remind me again--WHAT did Pierre DO before there WAS an eBay?????

And really--why should he CARE?  It's not HIS life that has been destroyed---HE can pay the light bill and not have to file for free lunch for HIS kids and pretty sure HE is not awake at night worrying how he is going to pay HIS property taxes.  

All of which and many more worries go thru the heads of ebay sellers EVERY DAY since The HO has been at the helm.

Pretty sure Pierre is one of those bored people texting away on his iPhone during those BOD meetings.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Tue Feb 18 17:46:35 2014

I don't know what purpose Pierre Omidyar’s new "First Look Media” exercise is ultimately meant to serve but if Omidyar truly had any principles he would instruct eBay Inc. to cease its demonstrable, calculated, facilitation of massive auction fraud on the consumers of the world.

Shill bidding fraud by professional sellers on eBay nominal-start auctions is demonstrably endemic; bidders who bid early and often on such auctions will most likely be sellers' shills, and eBay Inc. is demonstrably the greatest knowing and calculated facilitator of such fraud on consumers that the world is ever likely to know and, doubtless, there will be a trickle down effect of like criminal activity to all other eBay operations ...

The ugly reality of eBay Inc.:
eBay's crooked auctions marketplace ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas
eBay Motors (UK sampling): Auction Fraud Galore ... http://bit.ly/I2gTEU
eBay Motors XSS Redirect Scam in Action: video ... http://bit.ly/1d46NvE
eBay/Gumtree / Barclays Bank Motors Scam … http://bit.ly/1c9Uwck
eBay's clunky, unscrupulous "PreyPal" ... http://bit.ly/UVXx53
The ongoing joke of eBay Inc. ... http://bit.ly/YvxFEg
Fun quotes from the eBay executive suite ... http://bit.ly/12xvzyA
On Facebook ... https://www.facebook.com/groups/formerebaysellers/

Also, sans all the damage that’s already been done to the eBay marketplace by the narcissistic sociopath, Johnny Ho, Omidyar’s current worth of ~4.7 billion dollars may well have been a great deal more; indeed, had he, in August 2007, traded in all his eBay shares for shares in Amazon, he would instead now be worth ~43 billion dollars! Now that, surely, is something for all of eBay’s long-suffering "long" investors to think about ...

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Mar 1 22:30:48 2014

Omidyar Network... DOA for conflict of interest.  How could he not detached himself from ebay?  How could he not make his 1st project: Decimation of Small American ebay sellers.  Omidyar cannot claim to support checks and balances in American Government till he check and balance his own ebay board of directors.

Omidyar could not even recognize the conflict of interest within its board directors actions.  

American would always suspect what ulterior motives Omidyar has with his projects in Omidyar Network.




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