Reimagining Capitalism

We believe capitalism can still be a powerful force for good.

But while free markets have led to prosperity for some, they have also generated increasingly harmful and untenable inequities across economic, racial, and geographic lines.

We are capitalists who know that the current form of capitalism is fundamentally broken.

That’s why Omidyar Network is working to address the structural challenges at the heart of our economic system, and to shape a new, inclusive economy where markets serve the interests of all people and society. We do so by supporting a range of organizations—nonprofits, advocacy organizations, worker groups, think tanks, journalists, and entrepreneurs—with grants, investments, and the power of our network.

Read Our Call to Reimagine Capitalism to learn more about our point of view.

What We’re Working On

Seeding a New Economic Paradigm

Ideas matter. Some ideas are so deeply ingrained that we don’t even realize the power they hold over our thinking and behavior.

These ideas affect everything from how we structure our society, our democracy, and our families—even something as complex as the economy.

The prevailing economic ideas of the past 50 years in the U.S. have dramatically failed by most measures. We believe it is long past time to replace them.

Philanthropy supported the creation of these outdated ideas. We believe philanthropy must play a role in supporting new, better ideas. Our goal is to shape a new economic paradigm that describes our world today and points us toward systemic solutions that build a more equitable, inclusive, and resilient society. We are working with grantees, philanthropies, and other partners to help build alignment around a coherent new vision and set of economic values.

Read Our Call to Reimagine Capitalism to learn more about our point of view.

Building Worker Power

People need meaningful power to shape their destiny at work and in the economy overall. Power allows working people to advocate for better wages, policies, benefits, training, job opportunities, and working conditions.

Greater worker power provides an essential counterweight to rising corporate dominance, and to the spillover of corporate economic power into political power. This power imbalance is one of the main structural reasons American capitalism is failing so many in its current form.

We believe we will only have a healthier economy—one that is better for employees, businesses, and society—when working people have greater power, agency, and voice at work, both individually and collectively.

We support new organizing models to build power, as well as championing federal, state, and local labor reform policies that increase the power of workers in innovative ways. We also want to expand the net of American labor law to cover all working people, whether in the gig economy, in homes, in fields, or in a conventional workplace.

Read Our Vision for the Future of Workers and Work to learn more about our point of view.

Curbing Monopoly Power

Start-ups are part of our DNA, and we believe in competitive, dynamic economies. But start-up rates are down in the US, and concentration of market power is rising in a majority of industry sectors. While unchecked government power is a real danger to individual liberty, so is unchecked corporate power. Monopoly power threatens both the economy and our technology sector, and we work to address the issue in both arenas. We believe market guardrails can come from real competition, strict checks on monopolies, empowered consumers and grassroots organizations, and civil society.

“We learned long ago that liberty could be preserved only by limiting in some way the freedom of action of individuals; that otherwise liberty would necessarily yield to absolutism; and in the same way we have learned that unless there be regulation of competition, its excesses will lead to the destruction of competition, and monopoly will take its place.”

– US Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Ideas We're Exploring

Engaging in Elections, Policy & Advocacy

Elections often shape economic policy, narratives, and views of the economy, and decide their course. We support organizations on the frontlines fighting for more inclusive economic policies. We do this by funding ballot initiatives, referendum, and issue advocacy campaigns, as well as the narratives that can shape public discourse on the economy beyond Election Day.

Building Grassroots Infrastructure

As power in our society continues to concentrate, grassroots organizing is often the best way for ordinary people to stand up to it and provide meaningful counterweights. That’s why we are exploring how we can help stop the boom-and-bust cycle of advocacy funding. To strengthen the infrastructure that serves grassroots economic advocacy groups, we support technical assistance networks, post-election efforts, and coordinated catalytic funding over the long-term.

Learn more about our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Advocacy Fund.

Reforming the Financial Sector

We believe the American financial sector is too big, too concentrated, too complex, and too focused solely on generating profits for its incumbents. Instead, it should serve the real economy in a way which enables broad-based growth, innovation, investment and jobs, all while promoting stability. We would like to see the sector serve All consumer and business segments, not just the wealthy and themselves.

Because of incentives built into the system, financial institutions and markets have increased in size and influence. As a result, it has skewed our economy. Shareholder returns are paramount. Private equity has an outsized role in the economy. And student debt is skyrocketing.

Omidyar Network is exploring how we can help stop efforts to weaken critical regulations that keep financial power in check; strengthen countervailing power; shift rules, standards, and norms that can promote a positive role for finance; and convene stakeholders to develop a pro-active, shared reform agenda for when policy openings arise.

Read More

Shifting Corporate Governance to Focus on All Stakeholders

Shareholder primacy now dominates the corporate sector at the expense of a more holistic, longer-term view of business in society. We believe we must consider outcomes for other essential stakeholders —employees, customers, suppliers, and communities—not to mention the environment.

Omidyar Network is investigating how we can shift business incentives away from a sole focus on shareholder returns and towards a stakeholder-oriented approach to corporate governance. Potential approaches include working directly with prominent business leaders and networks leading this change; supporting business stakeholders and long-term investors to exert positive pressure on corporations; and advancing policy and regulatory reforms to address the incentives driving shareholder primacy.

Other Ideas

Promoting Impact Transparency

We think it’s crucial to build the ideas and infrastructure of the financial system we want to see in a reimagined capitalism. The growing impact investing and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing communities are at the forefront of this transformation. They not only deploy capital to achieve positive impacts, but they are also rewiring the system so that social and environmental impacts are integrated into corporate decision making.

Leveraging our experience as an impact investment firm, Omidyar Network is exploring ways to further accelerate this shift by supporting efforts to develop and standardize systems for assessing, measuring, and managing the full picture of company and investment impacts.

Countering Corporate Political Influence

Economic power has been permitted to spill too easily into political power in the last 50 years. We believe the corporate sector’s role in politics today is one of the biggest barriers to systemic, equitable economic reform, and a variety of other reforms. To reimagine capitalism, we know we must shift corporate engagement in our democracy.

Omidyar Network is looking at ways to increase transparency in corporate lobbying and political spending, so their own shareholders can hold them to account, as well as building up alternative voices in the business community to counter those of the largest corporations.