Pierre Omidyar . eBay founder
This Silicon Valley technologist built an equitable electronic marketplace for Americans to buy and sell their stuff -- and created an impressive economic engine in the bargain.
Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of the eBay online auction site, was born in Paris in 1967. His Iranian parents emigrated to the U.S. several years later. Omidyar studied computer science at Tufts University, then left for a Silicon Valley job, writing graphics software to run on Apple's Macintosh operating system.
His software engineering career took him through several companies and made him a millionaire before he turned 30.
Omidyar's auction Web site, eBay.com, took off. The stock market value of his innovative company grew to $2 billion in just three years. And his site's staying power as an economic engine was evident: according to the New York Times, in 2002 over 75,000 people supported themselves entirely by selling items on eBay.