Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Name and title: Will Fitzpatrick, corporate counsel Age: 39 Cross-sector investing: Omidyar Network is a “mission-based” investment group that funds organizations and companies-both for-profit and not-for-profit-that seek to make a positive social impact. The group was established in 2004 by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay Inc., and his wife, Pam. Its goal is to invest $400 million over five years with an equal amount spent on not-for-profit groups and for-profit companies. So far, Omidyar Network has invested in 27 for-profit and 46 nonprofit organizations, a total of $61.7 million. Omidyar Network is based in Redwood City, Calif., and has 37 employees. Its financial goals are to turn its profits into more investments. Omidyar Network seeks businesses whose profitability is driven by wider benefits to society. “The idea for us is that the social impact is built into the business model, not a business that gives a percent to charity,” Fitzpatrick said. The group receives unsolicited funding proposals, but does not accept them. Omidyar Network screens potential recipients for how they increase access to information, create connections among people with shared interests and involve participants with a sense of ownership. Once the organization passes the screen, “then we look at it purely as we would any other venture investment,” Fitzpatrick said. The team applies the same kind of financial and management-team due diligence to both for-profit companies and not-for-profits. Omidyar Network calls its work “cross-sector investing.” This distinguishes it from other groups that make grants and invest with an eye to social impact. “We don’t want to sacrifice financial returns because of social impact,” said Fitzpatrick. The due-diligence process is “very intensive,” he said. Screening for-profit businesses for a social mission certainly feels very unusual, especially in Silicon Valley, said Fitzpatrick, who has practiced corporate and intellectual property (IP) law in the San Francisco area for 12 years. Moreover, digging into the finances and management of nonprofits causes them some discomfort, he said. “Once you really start pushing them for the details, they are not used to having that happen,” he said. “It makes them quite uncomfortable, frankly. They will often say, ‘Why are you asking this level of details? We are just trying to get some good done in the world.’ ” Fitzpatrick replies: “ If you really want to get some good done and make a huge impact, then you will pay attention to these details.” Recipients of Omidyar Network support have included DonorsChoose, a not-for-profit online marketplace that connects potential donors with teachers seeking funds for school projects or programs. Another organization attracting Omidyar’s attention was InnoCentive, an online business marketplace connecting companies that have difficult science and engineering problems with outside experts, who receive a bounty for solving the problems. Omidyar has invested in microfinance institutions, which provide small loans from $40 to $500 to help individuals in undeveloped countries launch business, such as selling crafts or food. “The folks are invisible to the traditional banking community because they don’t have any collateral, but they are an amazingly good credit risk because they work very, very hard to pay back the loan,” Fitzpatrick said. “Rather than millions of dollars available, it could be billions. And instead of your dad investing in a bond fund, you might invest in a microfinance fund.” Route to the top: Fitzpatrick joined the Omidyar Network in March 2005, when it was about 6 months old. Before Omidyar, Fitzpatrick ran a solo law practice for three years in San Francisco, representing technology companies in transactions, IP and corporate issues. Earlier, he spent three years as in-house counsel for @Home Corp., which developed high-speed Internet access using cable modems, and saw the company through its merger with Excite to create [email protected]. He was in-house counsel for three years at Loudcloud Inc., which provided hardware and software services for high-traffic Web sites. And he was an associate with Fenwick & West of Mountain View, Calif., for four years, where he did IP and technology licensing, litigation and corporate work. He clerked for Chief U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson in Montgomery, Ala. Before and during law school, he worked for the Alabama Capital Representation Resource Center, a post-conviction legal assistance program for Alabama death row inmates, where he did paralegal and investigative work and wrote some briefs. Legal team and outside counsel: Fitzpatrick reports to Iqbal Paroo, Omidyar Network president and chief operating officer, and has a full-time legal assistant. Though there are no other lawyers, he expects to be increasing his staff. “We are moving in so many directions at once,” he said. In a typical day, Fitzpatrick might review early-stage proposals, meet with potential investees, meet with Omidyar investment managers, talk with outside counsel, evaluate due-diligence documents and process early-stage investment documents. Fitzpatrick relies on Fenwick & West and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, Calif., to help evaluate proposals and documents involving early-stage investments and to help with trademark applications. For work relating to not-for-profits, Fitzpatrick consults with Elizabeth Adler from San Francisco’s Silk, Adler & Colvin, and with Douglas N. Varley of Washington’s Caplin & Drysdale. Personal: Born in Montgomery, Ala., Fitzpatrick received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1989 and a law degree from Columbia University in 1994. For fun, he runs, reads and gardens. He and his wife, Phyllida Burlingame, have a daughter Oona, 5, and son Arlo, 2. Last book and movie: The Wealth of Networks, by Yochai Benkler, and Capote.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.