Omidyar Network was established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam as a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Others describe it as a philanthropic venture capital firm. Whatever the description, the network is unique in being both a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and a 501(c)(3) foundation giving financial support to both for-profits and nonprofits.
Headquartered in Silicon Valley’s Redwood City and with offices in London, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Bangalore, Singapore, and Washington, D.C., Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across five main initiatives.
In the CIMA survey, each donor was asked to rate from high to low in terms of priority the types of media interventions it supports.
Independent media programs are supported through the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative, which seeks to empower individuals to improve their lives by strengthening the relationship between citizens and government.
“We believe independent media are a critical component for an open, fair, inclusive and democratic society. They inform citizens, enable greater participation in the democratic process, provide citizens with a voice and hold those in positions of power to account,” said Stephen King, partner and global lead for the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative.
Since its inception in 2004, Omidyar Network has committed more than a billion dollars overall in support to both for-profits and nonprofits. Of this, $516 million has been invested in for-profit companies and $573 million went into grants to nonprofits. Approximately $28 million has supported around 45 independent media, investigative journalism, and fact-checking organizations around the world.
In calendar year 2016, Omidyar Network spent $3.6 million on media development projects. Of this, 50 percent of the organization’s media support went to Asia, 40 percent to Europe and 10 percent to Latin America.
In April 2017, Omidyar Network announced a three-year $100 million commitment to tackle the root causes of the global trust deficit. The funding will expand the work Omidyar Network has done over the last decade to strengthen independent media and investigative journalism, to support fact checking, and to enable responsive, effective government and empower citizens. In addition, it will also focus on combatting misinformation and hate speech.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which was behind the 2016 Panama Papers investigation, is one of the first recipients with $4.5 million to support the expansion of its investigative reporting.
Omidyar Network typically does not take unsolicited proposals, rather it seeks out “partners” who meet its priorities. “We scout the landscape for new opportunities,” a staffer said. They are typically referred to new prospects through its partner organizations or through networking at events and meetings they sponsor.
Funding for Media Development in 2016
Amount Spent on International Media Projects Since 2004
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is a network of more than 190 investigative journalists working in more than 65 countries who collaborate to report global issues including cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power.
In 2017, ICIJ reporters received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for their work exposing the Panama Papers, 11.5 million leaked Mossack Fonseca documents revealing offshore business entities linked to fraud, tax evasion, and international sanction evasions.
ALTEC was launched in 2017 by Omidyar Network, Fundacion Avina and Avina Americas to support the development and promotion of innovative civic technology platforms. The project goal is to promote civic engagement, which would lead to improved democracy, government accountability and transparency in Latin America.
ALTEC will support 20 projects of up to $150,000 through requests for proposals from independent media outlets, civic organizations and technology start ups. Those selected will receive technical, as well as financial, support to carry out their initiatives.