Monday, October 23, 2006

A Convenient Truthteller

I am yet to see the popular documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, based on the lecture by former US Vice President Al Gore about global warning, but on a flight to SE Asia this week I read an interesting article about its origins.

It concerns Jeff Skoll, a co-founder of eBay and Canada’s youngest billionaire who is turning Hollywood upside down financing activist films, like An Inconvenient Truth, and making them box office hits.

Skoll is a softy spoken man who, instead of hoarding his wealth, is seeking to get people involved in world issues with ‘participant movies’ that challenge people to get involved, as well as leading a raft of philanthropic ventures.

How did this self-confessed, aimless drifter get involved in such worthwhile causes? Skoll identifies two triggers. His father Morton came home one evening and told Jeff and his older sister that he had a terminal illness. “That brought home to me that we don’t know how much time we have, and you really need to maximize the opportunities you have to accomplish the things you consider important.”

He decided he wanted to write stories that would get people involved in bigger issues in the world,” he said. “But I wanted to become financially independent in order to write. This led me to an entrepreneurial path that culminated in eBay.”

Source: David Gritten, ‘The Thinking Man’s Mogul’, Open Skies, October 2006, Issue # 223, Dubai, UAE.

Image: Jeff Skoll