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Jeffrey Skoll Earned Billions As eBay’s First Employee… Now He’s Trying To Save The World

Jeffrey Skoll’s position as eBay’s first employee in 1998 helped him become a multi-billionaire. He has spent the last two decades trying to save the world.



Thanks to Jeffrey Skoll, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of critical COVID-19 fighting medical supplies were sent to some of the poorest countries in the world. The Gambians now have access to healthcare thanks to Jeffrey Skoll. Jeffrey Skoll has contributed to an 85% decrease in the number of water-borne illness-related deaths in 700 Indian villages. Numerous thousands of Haitians who are HIV positive now have access to antiretroviral medications as a result of Jeffrey Skoll. Because of Jeffrey Skoll, 6,000 African communities have declared an end to female genital cutting.

Who is Jeffrey Skoll?

tikkun olam



Early Life

Jewish middle-class parents in Toronto welcomed Jeffrey Skoll into the world in 1965. His father had a business that produced industrial chemicals, while his mother was a teacher. Jeff’s father was given a cancer diagnosis when he was 14 years old. His father expressed regret for not having time to do everything he had planned in life. This conversation would have a profound, lifelong impact on Jeff.

Jeff studied at college at the University of Toronto. To pay for his education, he pumped gas and worked at a student newspaper. He earned an honors degree in electrical engineering from the university in 1987. Remembering his father’s regrets, Jeff proceeded to spend several months backpacking around the world.


“I collect broken laser pointers,” the person said.

Soon thereafter Pierre approached Skoll again about joining the tiny startup. Skoll joined the company as the president and first employee after losing all will to delay.

Already a profitable company, eBay was experiencing such a fast rate of growth that Skoll had his work cut out for him. He assumed control of the administrative side of the business and produced the business plan that turned eBay from a successful start-up into one of the most lucrative industries in the world.

At the time, it appeared as follows:

eBay in 1998
eBay in 1998

In 1998, eBay

Becoming a Billionaire

NASDAQ listed eBay on September 21, 1998. The initial share price objective was $18. eBay’s first trading day came to a finish at $53.50.

Giving it all Away

Jeffrey, who became a multi-billionaire, never forgot his father’s regrets or the idea of “tikkun olam,” and he set out to transform the world.

One of the biggest foundations for social entrepreneurship in the world, The Skoll Foundation supports like-minded innovators and works to link them. Its goal is to address global concerns on a wide scale. Each year, the foundation evaluates tens of thousands of grant applications before selecting four to six recipients for substantial funding. The financing from these grants is normally given for three years.

eBay in 1998

Its flagship program, the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, supports 85 social entrepreneurs who are supplying some of the world’s most underdeveloped nations with critical resources.

People who are motivated to make a difference can connect with one another through the online community “Social Edge” and the yearly “Skoll World Forum” on Social Entrepreneurship held in Oxford.

To help improve business skills in social entrepreneurs, Skoll contributed $8 million to create the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, which allows five entrepreneurs each year to enroll in M.B.A. classes. Media outlets including The Sundance Institute, NPR, PBS, and the annual Skoll Awards Ceremony at the Skoll World Forum all highlight social entrepreneurs.

Jeffrey gave $100 million in 2009 to establish the Skoll Global Threats Fund, which focuses on the Middle East conflict, pandemics, water security, climate change, and other global threats.

Jeffrey personally gave $120 million in 2020 to help fight the COVID-19 epidemic. The money was spent to buy respiratory devices, testing equipment and other medical supplies in poor countries.

Participant Media

In 2004, Skoll founded Participant Media in an effort to use the entertainment sector to highlight social issues. The business currently has a strong track record of producing films that encourage social awareness and change. Films produced by Participant Media include:

    In order to establish the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, Jeffrey gave a gift to the UCLA School of Theater in 2014.

    Impact Investor

    When Bill Gates called Skoll in 2010 and urged him to sign the Giving Pledge, Skoll readily agreed, adding:

    “If I die today, everything goes to the foundations.”

    If only the world had more billionaires like Jeffrey Skoll. And if I ever become a billionaire, I will certainly be following in his path!

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