Jeffrey Skoll

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Jeffrey Skoll
Jeff Skoll 2013 (5576999744).jpg
Skoll in late 2013
Jeffrey Stuart Skoll

(1965-01-16) January 16, 1965 (age 54)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
ResidencePalo Alto, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
Stanford University
  • President of eBay (1996–1998)
  • Founder and chairman of Participant Media
  • Chairman of the Capricorn Investment Group
  • Founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation
  • Founder and chairman of the Jeff Skoll Group
  • Founder of Skoll Global Threats Fund
  • Co-Founder of The Rise Fund
Net worthDecreaseUS$5 billion (September 2019)[1]
Stephanie Swedlove (m. 2014)

Jeffrey Stuart Skoll, OC (born January 16, 1965)[2] is a Canadian engineer, internet entrepreneur and film producer. He was the first employee and subsequently first president of eBay, eventually using the wealth this gave him to become a philanthropist, particularly through the Skoll Foundation, and his media company Participant Media. He founded an investment firm, Capricorn Investment Group, soon after and currently serves as its chairman. Born in Montreal, Quebec, he graduated from University of Toronto in 1987 and left Canada to attend Stanford University's business school in 1993.

Shortly after graduating from business school, he began his career at eBay where he wrote the business plan that the company followed from its emergence as a start-up to a larger company. While at the company he began the eBay Foundation which was allocated pre-IPO stock now worth $32 million. Once eBay's second largest stockholder, behind Omidyar, he subsequently cashed out a portion of his company holdings, yielding him around $2 billion.[3][4] With an estimated net worth of $US 4 billion (as of December 2016), Skoll was ranked by Forbes as the 7th wealthiest Canadian and 134th in the United States.[5]

Through his film production company, Participant Media–of which he is founder, owner, and chairman–he has produced numerous critically acclaimed films. His first films Syriana (2005), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), and North Country (2005), along with the documentary Murderball (2005), accounted for 11 Oscar nominations in 2006. His subsequent films have included An Inconvenient Truth (2006), Fast Food Nation (2006), The World According to Sesame Street (2006), Waiting for "Superman" (2010), Lincoln (2012), and his latest, Spotlight (2015) won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2016.[6]

Early life[edit]

Jeff Skoll was born to a Jewish family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[7][8][9] His mother was a teacher[3] and his father was a chemical company owner who sold industrial chemicals.[10] The family settled in Toronto in the late seventies. When Skoll was fourteen, his father was diagnosed with cancer which prompted him to discuss with his son how much he regretted not having had the time to do everything he had planned in life. His first job was pumping gas at a York Mills gas station.

He graduated with a BASc with honours in 1987 from the University of Toronto's electrical engineering program. While an undergraduate student, he co-edited the engineering students' satirical newspaper The Toike Oike. He paid his way through college by pumping gas in North York, Ontario. After graduating he backpacked around the world for several months before returning and founding two businesses in Toronto: Skoll Engineering, an information technology consulting firm and Micros on the Move Ltd., a computer rental firm. He left Canada in 1993 to earn a Masters of Business Administration degree at Stanford Business School, graduating in 1995. After Stanford he went to work at Knight-Ridder where he was working on internet projects for the publishing company.[11]

Skoll's eBay era[edit]

In 1996 Skoll met eBay's founder Pierre Omidyar who hired him as the company's first president and first full-time employee. While eBay was already profitable at the time Skoll joined, he wrote the business plan that eBay followed from its emergence as a start-up to a great success. He remained President until the arrival of Meg Whitman in January 1998 when he became vice president, Strategic Planning and Analysis until back problems necessitated his departure from full-time employment at the company. In 1998, he championed the creation of the eBay Foundation which was allocated pre-IPO stock now worth $32 million. Once eBay's second largest stockholder, behind Omidyar, he subsequently cashed out a portion of his company holdings, yielding him around $2 billion.[3][4]

Participant Media[edit]


Jeff Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004 with the premise that a good story well told can help change the world. As the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change, Participant Media's projects combine the power of a great story with opportunities for global audiences to get involved.

Participant Media has produced more than 75 feature and documentary films that have collectively earned 52 Academy Award® nominations and 11 wins and have highlighted some of the most pressing issues of our time, including climate change, gender inequity, water scarcity, pandemics, and cybersecurity. Initially founded with a focus on film, over the past decade Participant has expanded to become a multi-platform content company producing and distributing film, television and digital entertainment.

Film production career[edit]

Its first three films were Syriana; Good Night, and Good Luck; and North Country, along with the documentary Murderball. These films accounted for 11 Oscar nominations in 2006. Subsequent films have included An Inconvenient Truth, American Gun, Fast Food Nation, and The World According to Sesame Street. An Inconvenient Truth won two Oscars in 2007 and has been credited with extending the public debate over climate change. Other films in 2007 included Charlie Wilson's War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, The Kite Runner directed by Marc Forster, Angels in the Dust about an AIDS orphanage in South Africa, Darfur Now about the genocide in Darfur with Don Cheadle, and Man from Plains, a film about Jimmy Carter directed by Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme.[12]

Films in 2008 included The Visitor, by Thomas McCarthy with Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass; Chicago 10, based on the 1968 Democratic convention protests; Standard Operating Procedure, a documentary about Abu Ghraib by Errol Morris; The Cove, a documentary about the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan; The Crazies, an updated version of the George A. Romero biotoxin thriller from 1973; and Pressure Cooker, a documentary about an inner-city school cooking contest, set in Philadelphia. A 2010 film released in the US on Earth Day, April 22, was Oceans, a documentary about the oceans by Jacques Perrin, director of the Oscar-winning Winged Migration.[12]

Another 2010 film was Waiting for "Superman". In 2011, through a 50–50 partnership with Image Nation Abu Dhabi,[13] the company produced Contagion and The Help, both commercial successes and the latter getting multiple Oscar nominations, including best picture. In 2012, the company produced through its partnership with Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Participant Media produced Lincoln, which garnered 12 Oscar nominations including best picture for the producers.[6] The company has released 43 films and garnered 35 Oscar nominations, while contributing to social change.[12]

Skoll was executive producer of Spotlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture on February 28, 2016. The company also has publishing and television divisions, and operates, an online site catering to social activists.[12]


Skoll is a noted philanthropist and has been honoured many times for his generosity. He has given the eponymous Skoll Foundation approximately $1 billion of eBay stock since its formation in 1999. The Foundation supports "social entrepreneurship".[14] Skoll chairs the Foundation and today makes grants in excess of $80 million per year. The Skoll Foundation's assets rank it as the largest foundation for social entrepreneurship in the world. Skoll's largest charitable donation was a $30 million contribution to the Alliance for Climate Protection Campaign.

Skoll's recent honors and awards include The Producers Guild of America Visionary Award (2009), Time Magazine's 100 People of the Year (2006), Wired Magazine's Rave Award (2006), the National Leadership Award for Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley (2004) and the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (2003). In 2003, Skoll was the commencement speaker and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto. Skoll is also a member of the Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council.[15]

In addition, Skoll has financed The Gandhi Project in partnership with Relief International which created a dubbed version in Arabic of the film Gandhi. They used Palestinian voice actors and artists to make the film particularly relevant to Palestinians. With Skoll's support, it is being screened throughout Palestine to promote non-violence, self-reliance, economic development, and empowerment.

Personal life[edit]

Jeff Skoll married fellow Canadian Stephanie Swedlove in October, 2014. He is an avid Montreal Canadiens fan.

Honours and awards[edit]

  • Bloomberg Business Week's list of most innovative philanthropists (2002–present)[2]
  • National Leadership Award for Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley (2004)[2]
  • Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (2003)[2]
  • Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Silicon Valley chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (2002)[2]
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto (2003)[2]
  • Time Magazine's 100 People of the Year (2006)[2]
  • Wired Magazine's Rave Award (2006)[2]
  • He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his generous commitment to social causes and for his innovative practice of philanthropy."[16] (2011)[2]



Year Title Notes
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck executive producer
North Country executive producer
Syriana executive producer
2006 American Gun executive producer
The World According to Sesame Street executive producer
An Inconvenient Truth executive producer
Fast Food Nation executive producer
2007 Chicago 10 executive producer
Angels in the Dust executive producer
Man from Plains executive producer
Darfur Now executive producer
The Kite Runner executive producer
Charlie Wilson's War executive producer
2008 The Visitor executive producer
Standard Operating Procedure executive producer
Pressure Cooker executive producer
Food, Inc. executive producer
2009 The Soloist executive producer
The Informant! executive producer
2010 The Crazies executive producer
Furry Vengeance executive producer
Waiting for "Superman" executive producer
Fair Game executive producer
2011 The Beaver executive producer
The Help executive producer
Contagion executive producer
2012 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel executive producer
Lincoln executive producer
Promised Land executive producer
No executive producer
2013 Snitch executive producer
A Place at the Table executive producer
Made in America executive producer
The Fifth Estate executive producer
2014 The Hundred-Foot Journey executive producer
Merchants of Doubt executive producer
A Most Violent Year executive producer
2015 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel executive producer
He Named Me Malala executive producer
Bridge of Spies executive producer
Our Brand Is Crisis executive producer
Spotlight executive producer
2016 Neruda producer
The Light Between Oceans executive producer
Denial executive producer
Deepwater Horizon executive producer
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life executive producer
A Monster Calls executive producer
2017 An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power producer
Shot Caller executive producer
2018 Captive State executive producer

TV series[edit]

Year Title Notes
2016 Truth to Power executive producer

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Stocks". Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  3. ^ a b c "The thinking man's movie mogul", Telegraph Magazine 26 August 2006
  4. ^ a b Malone, Michael S., "The indie movie mogul", Wired magazine, February 2006.
  5. ^ "Jeffrey Skoll". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  6. ^ a b "Oscar nominations are not the goal: Participant Media CEO", Marketplace, February 21, 2013. Interview by Kai Ryssdal with Participant CEO Jim Berk. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Biography, ,The History of Computing Project
  9. ^ Times of Israel: "Who said Jews run Hollywood? -Inaugural list of 100 prominent players in Tinseltown shows a lack of diversity -- and a whole lot of MOTs" by Lisa Klug 23 June 2016
  10. ^ Cohen, Adam, The Perfect Store: Inside Ebay Archived 2006-06-30 at the Wayback Machine, ISBN 0-316-16493-3
  11. ^ "Skoll | Meet Jeff Skoll". Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  12. ^ a b c d "Jeff Skoll". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  13. ^ "Participant, Imagenation form $250 mln film-financing fund"
  14. ^ An Open Letter To Jeff Skoll
  15. ^ "Berggruen Institute".
  16. ^ "Meet the Canadian billionaire who's giving it all away". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-12-26.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
New title
Chief Executive Officer of eBay
Succeeded by
Meg Whitman
President of eBay