Former eBay (EBAY) president; Participant Media, founder
Palo Alto, Calif.
The former eBay president founded the Skoll Foundation in 1999 as a way to push systemic social change in the world by investing in and developing social entrepreneurs. The foundation gives out the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship to support those involved in addressing such issues as human rights, health, the environment, and peace and security. In 2004 Skoll launched the for-profit Participant Productions (now Participant Media) to fund independent entertainment with a social conscience. So far, the company has had an impressive track record. It has backed Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana, Darfur Now, and the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, among others.
"The world is facing a series of urgent threats that put at serious risk the quality of life on the planet. Climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, water scarcity, Middle East conflict—all are truly global challenges. Furthermore, these threats are only the tip of the iceberg. I created the Skoll Foundation because I believe that philanthropy can be an effective tool in helping mankind survive into the coming centuries."