The billionaire, first full time employee of eBay and the previous President of the online auction house has used his financial status for good in his second career and has became one of the most noted humanitarians of the last decade.
After making his fortune from the wake of eBay's success, Skoll departed from the company and progressed to create the 'Skoll Foundation', which was launched in 1999. The premise behind the organisation was Skoll's concept of the 'social entrepreneur': individuals who are defined by the Skoll Foundation as innovative beings and creators who break the status quo and transform our world for the better. The foundation currently funds 81 social entrepreneurs as they tackle unique challenges in over 100 countries across the globe.
Thereafter, Skoll established the broad 'Skoll Global Threats Fund' in 2009 to tackle the issues of climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and conflict in the Middle East. Alongside this Skoll created 'The Participant Media' in 2004 to produce films about what he considers to be meaningful or world issues. The noted 2006 film, 'An Inconvenient Truth' received an Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature. The release of latest blockbuster 'The Help' has totalled nearly $175 million worldwide.
In May 2011, American publishing and media company, Forbes, compiled a list of 19 individuals who have donated at least $1 billion over the course of their lives including Bill Gates ($28 billion lifetime giving). This list calculated that Skoll had donated approximately $1.2 billion since the late 1990s. Skoll's charitable record predominantly consists of gifts to eBay stock to the Skoll foundation, however, it also includes a $7.5 million donation to the University of Toronto and an $100 million donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Skoll's humanitarian work was recognized when he won the Tech Awards James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award in October of this year.
The reason I have chosen Skoll as my humanitarian of 2011 is mainly because he seems genuine. Celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie (UN goodwill ambassador) and George Clooney, who have taken on mass humanitarian projects usually win humanitarian awards, most likely because their work is more widely recognised due to their celebrity status. However, though I appreciate the work these celebrities do is admirable, I sometimes can't help but wonder what their motives really are. Do they genuinely want to help those in Libya or Kenya or do they crave positive media attention? Though, Skoll is known for his work with eBay he is hardly a celebrity and I feel that he sometimes does not receive the credit he deserves.