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EBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s philanthropic investment group calls for a new version of capitalism

Pierre Omidyar, , looks on during the final session of the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.

Ramin Talaie | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

The philanthropic investment group created by eBay’s founder hopes to convince business leaders and policy makers that it’s time to redefine capitalism. 

The Omidyar Network, founded by Pierre Omidyar, is issuing a blueprint that calls on investors to start taking a new and seemingly more progressive approach to understanding capitalism.  

Omidyar’s group is encouraging leaders across the country to look at the economic system as a way to “equally ensure that people who have been historically and systematically marginalized by structural racism, colonialism, paternalism, and indifference will have opportunity, power, and the self determination that comes from economic prosperity and a vibrant, fair, and responsive democracy,” the report says. It also argues that capitalism should still be about rewarding individual success.

Omidyar has a net worth of just over $17 billion, according to Forbes. He recently retired from the board of eBay. Omidyar’s wife, Pam, co-founded the Omidyar Network.

The network aims to be a voice in the larger debate about capitalism, using experience in the corporate, philanthropic and policy spaces to convince leaders that they should follow their proposal for the U.S. economic system. The organization has previously announced it intends to spend $35 million over the course of three years into 2021 on philanthropic initiatives.

The move comes in the wake of millions losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and a time of civil unrest. The proposal appears to go further than what’s been defined as stakeholder capitalism, which is the notion that businesses should help those beyond just their shareholders and also focus on local communities. 

This outline is being published, at least in part, with the hope that essential workers, including health care workers, will get increased collective bargaining power following their fight on the front lines of Covid-19. 

“We think if anything it (the coronavirus) illustrates the need for this blueprint even more so,” Mike Kubzansky, the CEO of the organization, told CNBC on Sunday. “We think it’s absolutely critical the focus is on, and take advantage of the moment people are focused on, essential workers, and try to increase their bargaining power,” he added. 

The Omidyar group’s proposal is organized through five pillars. 

“The pillars are not specific policy proposals, but rather core elements that any new economic settlement must take into account,” the network argues. 

The operation describes the pillars as grounding the economy in new ideas, shared values and inalienable rights; building an explicitly anti-racist and inclusive economy; creating forms of counterweight to economic power; rebalancing the relationship between markets and communities; and building a resilient economy. 

Omidyar’s group suggests that the economy should reject “any historical justifications for slavery or racism, as well as bigotry in all its forms.” The group also thinks the economy should address racial barriers that it believes are embedded into American society. 

Their third pillar, about counterweights to economic power, calls for pushback against monopolies and the strengthening of grassroots organizations and labor unions.

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