Jeff Skoll to Give Inaugural Guest Speaker Address at 2010 Graduation

Creating a new annual tradition, Staford GSB has named philanthropist and entrepreneur Jeff Skoll (MBA '95) as its first graduation guest speaker.

March 01, 2010

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay and the founder of the Skoll Foundation, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and Participant Media, will be the first-ever guest speaker to address a Stanford Graduate School of Business graduation ceremony on June 12, 2010.

The Skoll speech will start a new tradition at the annual business school degree ceremony. “Our students asked us for an inspirational speaker on this important day to help them envision the roles they may undertake to change lives, change organizations, and change the world through managed organizations of all kinds,” said Garth Saloner, Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “I can’t think of anyone better to model the life of meaning and impact we want our students to pursue than Jeff Skoll. He built a remarkable organization at eBay, and now has gone on to have an enormous impact on social issues through both his film and his philanthropic work.”

A 1995 graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Skoll put his management skills to work as the first employee and president of eBay Inc. After eBay’s success, he launched the Skoll Foundation in 1999. It quickly became the world’s largest foundation for social entrepreneurship, driving large-scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. The Foundation now supports more than 60 organizations around the world doing innovative work on environmental sustainability, public health, conflict resolution and more. Skoll’s latest endeavor, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, launched in 2009, aims to identify and support solutions for tackling climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, and Middle East conflict.

Skoll also believes in the power of media and a story well told to raise consciousness and compel social change. Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004, which has since created a number of feature and documentary films focused on social issues, including, among others, the Oscar-winner An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc., Charlie Wilson’s War, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, The Soloist, The Kite Runner and The Informant! All aim to bring social issues to a broader audience and inspire people to action. Participant Media also celebrated its 2010 Oscar documentary winner, The Cove, which detailed the controversial dolphin hunt in Japan.

Jeff Skoll earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto in 1987. After founding a computer consulting business, he returned to school for his MBA at Stanford to enhance his management skills. He worked briefly for Knight-Ridder prior to joining eBay. Barron’s recently named Skoll #2 among the Top 25 Philanthropists based on impact in 2009. He was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year (2006), received Wired Magazine’s Rave Award, and made BusinessWeek’s list of most innovative philanthropists. In 2009, The Producers Guild of America awarded him the Visionary Award, and Global Green USA bestowed its Entertainment Industry Environmental Leadership Award on him. Skoll also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto and an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Santa Clara University.

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