When people ask which impact investors inspire us, one team consistently rises to the top: Omidyar Network. Since its founding 14 years ago, Omidyar Network has led a small revolution in the impact investing and philanthropic community. Not only has it dedicated over $1 billion to initiatives working to solve some of the world’s greatest problems, it has redefined how the world thinks about capitalizing these initiatives. The flexibility built into Omidyar Network’s investing and grantmaking programs through its for-profit/non-profit hybrid structure allows it to strategically deploy investments and grants from its diverse array of enterprises into a wide variety of for-profit social enterprises and non-profit organizations. This structural approach has caught fire, and these days Omidyar Network is no longer alone at the forefront of impact investment and philanthropic change – it has inspired countless others to embrace its hybrid model. We have been fortunate to help develop Omidyar Network’s framework, and in a testament to Omidyar Network’s success, we now field many inquiries from socially conscious family offices, venture capitalists, and even institutional investors asking: Can we do what Omidyar Network has done? We are proud of our contributions to this structural revolution, and we are humbled by the immense impact Omidyar Network has had on so many lives around the world. So yes, let’s talk about how you can pioneer change too. For starters, we encourage you to read Omidyar Network’s own explanation of the benefits of the hybrid structure, as republished here with permission.
Omidyar Network’s Journey to Impact Investing
When eBay went public, founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam suddenly found themselves with an incredible amount of wealth — and an immediate sense of responsibility to put it to good use. They initially formed a traditional grantmaking foundation, but quickly realized that in order to truly create change at scale, they needed to leverage the power of the markets. And so Omidyar Network was formed as both a limited liability corporation (LLC) and a 501(c)3, allowing them the greatest flexibility to invest in disruptive, catalytic change.
Nearly fourteen years later, Omidyar Network has experienced distinct advantages as a result of this hybrid structure: the ability to fund the best entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they operate for-profit or nonprofit entities; a model that allows us to attract, develop, and retain the best talent; the flexibility to deploy capital on an as-needed basis; and the freedom to engage in policy and advocacy discussions.
Together, these advantages have allowed us to deploy over $1 billion in capital – split nearly evenly between for-profit investments and nonprofit grants – to effect change in our core initiative areas of education, emerging tech, financial inclusion, governance & citizen engagement, and property rights. We continue to refine the model by which we deploy this capital, and late last year shared the framework that guides our grantmaking and investment process.
We see a promising future for both impact investing and hybrid philanthropic vehicles such as Omidyar Network. Indeed, we are pleased to see philanthropic vehicles such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative adopt an LLC structure, and mainstream financial institutions such as BlackRock and TPG launch impact funds. We eagerly look forward to the impact these developments will have on the field, and look forward to sharing more of our journey – and learning from theirs – along the way.
Explore the path Pam and Pierre Omidyar took in creating Omidyar Network.