Inside Coffee With Pierre Omidyar

Creating a Web Community Made Him Singularly Rich

It was a scene from a bad spy novel. There I was leaning against a kiosk on the Champs Elysees, furtively looking at a small black-and-white photo and trying to spot the elusive Pierre, an Internet legend who tries to stay out of the spotlight. I surveyed the tables at Fouquet's, the fashionable outdoor cafe where we had agreed to meet. No dice. How hard can it be to pick out a geek entrepreneur who's worth more than $5 billion?

When Pierre spotted me--the reporter's notebook was the tip-off--it was clear why I was drawing blanks. He looked nothing like the...

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