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Coming Attractions: eBay TV

Coming Attractions: eBay TVSix years after alum's auctions debuted on the Internet, eBay is focused on exploring new territory -- television. New York.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.06.01] In 1995, Pierre Omidyar launched eBay -- an online auction company that quickly became one of the most recognized names on the web. Now, the Tufts grad's multimillion-dollar company has plans to bring its inventory, and the people who buy and sell it, to a TV near you.

"The popular online auction site eBay said it had begun a partnership with Columbia TriStar Television to create a new daily television series for fall 2002, focusing on the stories behind some of the millions of items that are sold on its site," The New York Times reported late last week.

There should be no shortage of stories for the new show.

According to Investor's Business Daily, Omidyar's company listed over 265 million items during the year 2000 alone.

"EBay features more than 4,500 categories of goods to buy and sell within," reported the financial newspaper. "Millions of items can be seen every day, with users adding nearly 600,000 items daily."

Listings include everything from collectibles to electronics. The Los Angeles Times reported that one woman even jokingly posted photos of her misbehaving kids on the site, offering to auction them to the highest bidder.

Stories like that one are expected to provide some of the upcoming show's content.

And there is already a natural audience for eBay's television venture.

"Last year, the company boasted more than 22 million registered users, a community larger than the population of Texas," reported Investors Business Daily.

On average those users spend more time using Omidyar's creation than any other site on the web.

The success of the online auction site has enabled the 1989 Tufts graduate to focus on his philanthropic goals.

"After grappling with the complications of aiding good causes, Omidyar started the eBay Foundation in 1998," reported Investors Business Daily. "Since November of that year, the foundation has made grants of more than $2,500,000 to more than 75 nonprofit organizations."

His alma mater was among them.

In 2000, Omidyar gave $10 million to Tufts to help establish the University College of Citizenship and Public Service (UCCPS). The innovative initiative is focused on creating a community of graduates who can combine successful careers with active participation in public service organizations for social and environmental causes, and politics.

As part of that mission, Tufts' UCCPS awards scholarships to undergraduates to help them develop and implement programs to promote active citizenship at Tufts and in their surrounding communities. This year, 48students at Tufts are Omidyar Scholars, 11 from the class of 2005.

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