In what must be a record year for direct investments in private businesses and ventures, private investment offices have driven much of the activity, perhaps more than ever before. Many family and private investment groups have made an outstanding contribution to the investment world in 2018, but maybe one stands out more than others – Omidyar Network, the impact/philanthropy investment group of Pierre and Pam Omidyar.
Not only has Omidyar Network made record levels of investments in purpose-based businesses and ventures, but it has set the benchmark for many others to follow. Just this year, Omidyar Network was involved in investments worth more than $400 million into more than 40 businesses and groups with an impact/social focus. It led 19 of these investments, which included many in the Indian subcontinent, where it is perhaps making its biggest impact outside of the US. But its investments and influence have become truly global.
Among the more notable investments were: Vedantu, an Indian-based venture providing live online tutoring, designed to democratize teaching by creating a marketplace of teachers; Tez Financial Services, a Pakistan fintech startup; NeedsList, a US-based global marketplace group connecting donors with NGOs; De Correspondent, a Dutch online journalism platform focusing on background, analysis, and investigative reporting; Open Data Institute, a London-based organization that works to lead the movement of open data on the web; Rensource Energy, a Nigerian-based group that allows qualifying companies throughout Nigeria and West Africa to start selling Power-as-a-Service (PaaS) to their customers….the list goes on and on.
Founded in 2004, Omidyar Network’s experience in investing in purpose-based businesses/ventures has reached such a level of sophistication that it is passing on its knowledge to other private investment groups and foundations around the world. Last summer, the group released a guide on how to construct an investment team with the purpose of making impact investments. Entitled “Building an Impact Investment Team”, the 29-page guide presents a four-stage guide to building a team. It now owns a sizable chunk of the intellectual space in the area of impact investing. And pretty much all of Family Capital’slist of sustainable/impact family and private investment offices have been influenced by Omidyar Network.
Based in Redwood City in California, Omidyar Network has a team of more than 120 staff dotted around its offices across the world. The group is making a difference to many people’s lives. But not only that, Omidyar Network is applying financial rigour to all its investments, with many of them destined to make a sound return on their initial and sometimes follow up investment. Omidyar Network is genuinely an outstanding private investment office and a great credit to the growing influence of family-based capital in the global impact investment sector.