Pierre Omidyar found his calling early in life. Soon after his Iranian father moved the family from Paris to Maryland, the principal of Omidyar’s high school caught the future founder of eBay skipping P.E. to mess around with the school’s computers.
Instead of punishing the precocious teen with a stern talking-to or educational wedgie, the principal put Pierre to work, hiring him to write a program to print catalog cards for the school library.
After graduating from Tufts University in 1988, Omidyar went to work at Apple subsidiary Claris, but his most famous invention came from his need to get rid of a broken laser pointer.
Testing out a prototype “auction” program on his personal site, Omidyar discovered that someone was willing to pay $14 for a non-functioning $30 laser pointer, proving both that person-to-person transactions could be made safely online and that people will buy any dumb thing you can sell them on the Internet.
Today, Omidyar and his wife devote their time to the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm and development agency.