Director, Tech and Society Solutions Lab
Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and his wife, Pam, established Omidyar Network (ON) based on the belief that every person has the potential to make a difference. We take calculated risks in the earliest stages of innovation, helping to transform promising ideas into successful ventures that can increase opportunity for individuals around the world. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, ON also has offices in Washington, DC; London, UK; Mumbai, India; and Johannesburg, South Africa. We have invested more than $1.1 billion into some of the most promising change-makers – both for- and non-profit – globally.
The Tech and Society Solutions Lab is a new effort that draws from Pierre’s and ON’s long-standing beliefs both in the promise of technology to create opportunity, empowerment and social good; as well as our increasing concern about unintended societal consequences arising from rapid technological innovation. The lab will test and scale interventions meant to help tech companies and civil society better anticipate, prevent, and correct issues arising from current and potential future societal downsides of technology – and maximize societal upside. For example:
- We are supporting a number of field-leading change agents tackling important goals from Time Well Spent, which is raising awareness about the harms arising from the addictive nature of social media, to Doteveryone, which is fomenting a movement for ethical technology in the UK.
- We are exploring efforts to reinvent training for technologists in prominent universities so as to include deep practical work on planning for societal impact in engineering, data science and product design.
- We are working with a consortium of data scientists to support a ‘data oath’ that lays out principles for responsible data usage.
- We are forming partnerships with individual tech companies who want to test specific interventions to build more ethical cultures and product design practices, including tools and resources for employees to more effectively identify and prevent social harms arising from technology.
- We are planning a major convening of different actors to build shared identity and connective tissue so as to increase access to resources for promising efforts – and to build the foundation for a more formal umbrella effort and impact at scale.
While we believe that the wind is in our sails in terms of the change we seek to create, these are still early days. It is difficult to know which the best interventions will be, or even the most effective points of entry. We are a passionate and entrepreneurial team, taking an experimental approach: starting with small bets on various promising points of entry, and scaling up what works so as to change the system.
This is an incredible opportunity for a senior leader to play a formative role in building and shaping a groundbreaking effort. In addition to sourcing and leading key initiatives of the Tech and Society lab, the Director will also help to shape the overall strategy and trajectory of the effort and be a prominent ambassador for the work. The position will report to our Vice President and Global Lead for Tech and Society and will be based in Redwood City, California.
Key Responsibilities will include:
- In collaboration with the team, help define and refine strategy. In 2018, we will launch a handful of exciting experiments, support a growing number of investees, create and host key convenings, etc. You will play a key role in helping us shape this work, learn from it and ensure that we focus on what matters as we grow and scale.
- Source, create and lead core campaigns and experiments around responsible technology practices and usage. Sometimes this will come in the form of grants or investments to external organizations. Sometimes this will mean campaigns or efforts that we co-create alongside external partners.
- Act as a prominent external ambassador for the work, including high level speaking roles, participation in closed-door convenings, and representing our work to the media.
- Support the growth of a network of influential stakeholders that promotes best practices and tools to improve the tech industry. Build relationships and networks with key influencers and partners.
- Screen and asses inbound project proposals, shape appropriate due diligence standards, and related team processes and protocols.
- Work with colleagues and consultants to develop measures of impact for major programs and projects.
EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS REQUIREMENTS:
- 15+ years of experience with 10 or more at the senior executive level.
- You have a deep network in, understanding of, and credibility within the tech industry. You likely have gained this by working within one or more tech companies over the course of your career. You have influential contacts within tech who can partner with us on our strategies. You understand how tech companies operate and what their incentives are. And you have a track record of doing exactly that.
- Strong expertise in the mechanics of influence: building coalitions, cultivating strong partnerships, agenda setting, thought leadership, communications/marketing, and advocacy.
- Keen strategic thinker with a proven ability to take a complex goal, break down the pros and cons of different approaches, implement a direction and iterate from learnings.
- You are passionate about the mission of the team and full of ideas about how the technology industry can become the best version of itself. But you are also a utility player – you are not attached to any one particular idea or vision, and have the ability to pivot and experiment to figure out what works best.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills. You are a strong public speaker and prose writer, with evidence of past publications, media coverage and/or speaking roles.
- A high tolerance for ambiguity. You are willing to constantly test ideas, learn from failure with a systematic approach, and start again.
- You possess a great sense of humor, and care about team culture and harmony. You also have a high sense of personal responsibility and integrity, as well as proven ability to exercise discretion and good judgement.
- Background or experience in computer science, data science or engineering preferred.
- BA/BS required, graduate degree a plus.