POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 24, 2010
Hawaii's philanthropic powerhouse Pierre Omidyar fell to No. 47 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America.
The 43-year-old self-made billionaire-turned-philanthropist is worth $5.5 billion, the same as last year, when he ranked No. 40 on the Forbes list.
Omidyar, who lives in Hawaii with his wife, Pam, and three children, has donated a significant part of his fortune to local nonprofit groups.
Earlier this month, Omidyar said he planned to infuse Hawaii projects with more cash through his Ulupono Initiative, which promotes food sustainability, renewable energy and waste reduction.
Last year the Omidyars pledged $50 million over six years to the Hawaii Community Foundation, a charitable services and grant-making organization.
"Through the Ulupono Initiative and Hawaii Community Foundation, what he and Pam are trying to do is find ways to provide opportunities for people in Hawaii to improve their quality of life," said Sarah Steven, spokeswoman for the Omidyar family.
Omidyar's wealth came as a 28-year-old in 1995 when he wrote the software code for the online auction site eBay. He took the company public three years later and has since committed much of the rewards of his overnight success towards helping others. He recently joined 40 of the world's richest people in vowing to give away at least half of his fortune.
The Omidyars have donated more than $900 million to organizations worldwide, including $150 million to for-profit companies and $750 million to nonprofit groups.
His giving has been wide-ranging and diverse. The Omidyar Network has invested $5.5 million in a solar-powered lantern business, as well as donated $500,000 to a Kenyan political satire show, according to Forbes.com.
Omidyar's local contributions include at least $750,000 to help launch Kanu Hawaii, a grass-roots social organization that encourages civic-minded individuals to improve their community, and at least the same amount to Ma'o Organic Farms, whose goal is to educate at-risk youth in Waianae about agriculture, sustainable development and the Hawaiian culture.