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ImagePierre Omidyar

The world's no. 156th billionaire is French-born immigrant Pierre Omidyar, with a net worth of $3.6 billion. Omidya launched online auction site eBay in 1995. Computer programmer handed exec control to Meg Whitman three years later, remains chairman. EBay weathered Internet boom and bust with loyal customers. The company today boasts 84 million users.

A prolific blogger, Omidyar created Omidyar Network in 2004. Despite the economic gloom, philanthropic investment firm plans to increase its total donations in 2009; finances small businesses in developing economies, donates to non-profits.

Omidyar graduated from Tufts University in 1988 with a degree in computer science.