Scroll.in raises millions of dollars from Omidyar Network
On March 19, 2013 The Times of India reported that the US based philanthropic venture capital firm, Omidyar Network was going to invest millions of dollars into ‘independent media ventures’ in India.
“US-based philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network is looking to invest $100-$200 million in for-profit and non-profit ventures in the country over the next 3-5 years. Founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the firm has invested $113 mn across 35 companies in India since 2010. Omidyar investments are focused around consumer internet and mobile, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, government transparency and property rights. The firm invests in firms where social impact is the unifying criterion for investments.”
In July, 2014 it was reported that scroll.in had raised millions of dollars in funding from the Omidyar Network :
“US-based digital publishing company Scroll Media Inc, which runs a digital daily under the name Scroll.in, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Omidyar Network, the philanthropic VC firm set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, with participation from New York-based Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).”
So a global business giant interested in ‘philanthropic venture capital investment’ announces investment in ‘independent Indian media’ and a few months later it is the Hinduphobic digital daily scroll.in, which bags this lucrative investment. How did this come about? How did a start-up digital daily manage to receive massive funds from one of the biggest corporate organizations in the world?
The information about the exact amount that was raised was not disclosed. The size of the deal was not made public. Scroll.in, like other sponsored media ventures, is not open about its finances. But looking at the fact that Omidyar Network was looking to invest more than 200 million dollars, we can safely surmise that the sum is substantial.
Instead of talking about the amount raised for scroll.in, Samir Patil opined that: “Our aim is to provide good quality content to readers across all platforms, including mobile and tablets. So, the funds will go towards enhancing our technology and increasing the pace of the editorial content. ” The phrase ‘Increasing the pace of the editorial content’ makes one remember that scroll.in pays its authors and editors ridiculously well.
One wonders, why a far left digital daily in India is being funded by the owners of one of the biggest e-retailing websites in the world. What interest can the owner of eBay have in propping up ‘independent journalism’ in India?
Omidyar Network was founded by Pierre Omidyar, also the founder of eBay and many other for-profit ventures. He established Omidyar Network in 2004, a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets. Omidyar Network invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. ‘Catalyzing economic, social and political change’ is a euphemism for bringing about political coups. It is virtually a coded phrase, which means that the firm will invest in legal and illegal political organizations, which will be able to topple legitimate governments abroad and will function as proxies of Omidyar and his co-players.
Omidyar says that: “…the Omidyar decision is to build a brand new mass media entity from the ground up. The billionaire says, he is willing to sink at least the $250M… to get the effort going. ”
The reasons given behind this new venture of philanthropic journalism: “Omidyar believes that if independent, ferocious, investigative journalism isn’t brought to the attention of general audiences, it can never have the effect that actually creates a check on power. ”
A venture capitalist, an aggressive international businessman, who tried to buy out The Washington Post in an almost hostile takeover, opens a philanthropic venture capital firm Omidyar Network for ‘independent, ferocious and investigative journalism’? It beggars belief!
A corporate lobbyist creates a media funding agency so that it could ‘create a check on power’? Such big money only creates new power centers, which then become pivots of corporate lobbying, whose main job is to bully governments, toppling them at will and leveraging political and academic stooges all around the world.
How Omidyar helped topple the Ukrainian Government
Apparently, this is what Omidyar Network has been doing all over the world. According to a news website Pando, the Omidyar Network contributed to the recent upheavals in the Ukraine and the Crimea:
“In 2011, Omidyar Network gave $335,000 to “New Citizen,” one of the anti-Yanukovych “projects” managed through the Rybachuk-chaired NGO “Center UA.” At the time, Omidyar Network boasted that its investment in “New Citizen” would help “shape public policy” in Ukraine.”
The Omidyar Network itself has published a press-release regarding the funding of “Center UA”.
It would help to remember that Yanukovych was a pro-Russian President of Ukraine. New Citizen was a scroll.in like venture of Ukraine, which constantly worked to create an atmosphere hostile to Yanukovych. Soon the President was toppled and Putin, fearing a U.S. satellite in his own backyard, moved in to invade and capture the Crimea and take away substantial area of Eastern Ukraine from the new pro-U.S. Central government.
A government was toppled, an entire province was occupied and a country was sawed in half, thanks to the intervention of the ‘aggressive and independent journalism’, and ‘greater transparency’, which Omidyar had stated as the goal of his investments. He had said that the goal of his network was to build an independent media: “Using technology and media, New Citizen coordinates the efforts of concerned members of society, reinforcing their ability to shape public policy… With support from Omidyar Network, New Citizen will strengthen its advocacy efforts in order to drive greater transparency and engage citizens on issues of importance to them.”
Omidyar’s ‘philanthropic’ investments all over the World
Omidyar also controls many organizations all over the world. According to reports, he is in control of Snowden cache and the only two people, who have access to Snowden. Thus, he has silenced the potential threats to American security. Primarily, he keeps countries from forming strong governments.
It seems that he is also funding activities for exposing the U.S. Government; however, he is the one who has controlled the exposure of the Snowden documents to the wider world. As Pando’s Paul Carr noted: “Omidyar and First Look have made statement after statement about how they aim to be a thorn in the side of the US government, and yet in several cases Omidyar has co-invested with that same US government to shape foreign policy to suit his own worldview.”
Omidyar is a close friend of whoever occupies the White House, as evidenced by his frequent visits to the Presidential Residence. “…Omidyar Network announced its co-investment with USAID in Ukraine’s Center UA—which described itself as an “active participant” in the Ukraine revolution earlier this year (in 2014)—as well as in pro-democracy groups in Nigeria, Chile and India.”
One would do well to remember that USAID is one of the primary tools of the American government and corporate forces in their goal of breaking India. That Omidyar and his investment network are closely tied up with USAID shows how closely Omidyar is working with the clandestine overseas activities of the U.S. Government. The U.S. has been involved in many coups all over the world, toppling many governments, propping up many bloody dictatorships. In other huge democracies like India, they take the covert route, using agencies like USAID, and other NGOs, to foment revolutions and create trouble for strong central governments.
In a way, Ryabachuk and his NGO worked exactly as Arvind Kejriwal worked in India. The amount of success that the two got subsequently is also the same and the disrespect of national boundaries and national concerns are also shared by them.
Omidyar’s Investments in Indian Media and NGOs
Apart from funding New Citizen in Ukraine, Omidyar Network has funded many other organizations all over the world. In India too, Omidyar has invested in a wide variety of ventures like HealthKart and Quikr. But, it is in the NGO sector that Omidyar and his Nertwork has really spread its tentacles. He has funded ‘Akshara Foundation’, ‘Anudip Foundation’ and ‘Teach For India’. Teach For India has Nita Ambani on its board. Then there is “The Foundation for Ecological Security’ and ‘Sadhan’.
One of the most famous of Omidyar’s beneficiaries is ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms), which also has the Ford Foundation as one of its donors. It works in the area of ‘electoral and political reforms’ and has a great power to galvanize public opinions during elections in India. One of the eminent personalities gracing ADR is the self-styled historian, Ramachandra Guha, who is also a writer at The Caravan magazine.
Omidyar does this in the name of “philanthropic investment network” dedicated to “harnessing the power of the markets”. In an interview to David Carr of The New York Times, he was very clear that his venture, Omidyar was a ‘company not a charity’ . “That’s part of the reason we are doing a general-interest site,” he told Carr, “to work on how we get a general-interest audience to become engaged citizens.”
In the name of propping up ‘independent journalism’, in effect, what Omidyar is doing is to create a malicious nexus between the corporate and the media by blurring lines between them and turn media into nothing more than a tool of corporate lobbying, molding public opinion into whatever the biggest corporate wants.
Similar Ventures in India
Omidyar Network is not alone among the philanthropic venture firms that are investing money in Indian media. Many Indian business houses have pledged their commitment to invest money in creating new ‘independent media ventures’. For this, a trust, The Independent and Public Spirited Media Trust (IPSMT) was set up in October, 2015. It was stated that this trust “will help fund independent and socially committed media ventures in India.” We have already seen how independent these ‘independent ventures’ really are.
An initial corpus of 100 crore has been set-up by some of the richest businessmen in India like Azim Premji of Wipro, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon Ltd. and Rohini Nilekani, wife of Nandan Nilekani, who is a member of the Congress Party and was previously with Infosys. So, some of the greatest corporate houses of India, all of which engage in regular corporate lobbying, and one person, who is a member of the Congress Party have come together to set up an ‘independent media venture’. Will IPSMT turn out to be a media branch of corporate lobbying of pro-Congress corporate houses of India? Only time will tell.
Interestingly, some of the names that are involved in the list of beneficiaries of organizations funded by Omidyar, pop up in the list of trustees of IPSMT too. Hence, Ramachandra Guha is a trustee of IPSMT as well. Similarly, Indiaspend.org is funded by both Omidyar Network and by Rohini Nilekani, one of the contributors to IPSMT. It is said that The Wire is going to be funded by IPSMT as well. The Wire is another well-known Hinduphobic website.
Stifling True Dissent
If these efforts succeed on a big scale, the ultimate capitalist corporate nightmare will come true. No one will be powerful enough to defy the will of these corporate houses and their lobbying groups in the media. They will manufacture ‘dissent’ and mold public opinion in whatever direction they want.
By managing ‘dissent’ they will make the masses believe in the causes they want them to believe in and thus fooling them that they are doing their public duty. By making the masses, the general-interest audience, believe that they are in fact ‘engaged citizens’; that they are being agents of political change, their ultimate goal is to control true dissent.
Breaking India Forces
Rajiv Malhotra in his brilliant book, Breaking India, explains how the nexus between the Churches, the western-funded NGOs, the Left-liberals and the Rightist religious fundamentalists all work together in India in order to bring down the majority and destroy their culture. They pick on one ‘social evil’ of India and often spinning imaginary stories about it, slander India’s and Hinduism’s name across the world.
For example, these forces have made an industry out of ‘Dalit persecution’. They popularize few stray events, at times by blowing them out of context, and on the basis of the atrocity literature written on the subject, they collect charity funds, which are then diverted to Christian evangelism and other such activities in India. It is notable that the leading organizations of such ‘Indian issues’ are based either in the U.S. or Europe.
Scroll.in and its funding by Omidyar Network and other such agencies is a typical case of breaking India, wherein foreign forces with vested interests in keeping India weak are funding Indiaphobic and Hinduphobic organizations, including the media.
The next part of this series will analyze the kind of Hinduphobic articles that scroll.in regularly publishes.
- Phadnis, Shilpa. “Omidyar Network invests $100-200 mn in Indian companies.” The Times of India, March 19, 2013
- Mukherjee, Riddhi. “Scroll.in raises funding from Omidyar Network.” Medianama. July 25, 2014.
- Abudheen, Sainul K. “Digital daily in gets funding from Omidyar, Media Development Investment Fund.” VCCircle. July 24, 2014.
- Naidu, Prasant. “in Raises Funding From Omidyar And Media Development Investment Fund.” Lighthouse Insights. July 25, 2014.
- Duren, Marty. “Ebay Founder Pierre Omidyar to Start New Mass Media Organization.” The Christian Post. October 17, 2013.
- Ames, Mark. “Pierre Omidyar co-funded Ukraine revolution groups with US government, documents show.” Pando. February 28, 2014.
- “Omidyar Network Supports Technology-Centered Organizations Seeking to Empower Citizens Across Six Countries“. Accessed on 15/08/2016.
- Pando. Also see: [https://www.omidyar.com/investees/new-citizen-centre-ua]
- Corbett, James. “‘Secrets for Sale’ and The Snowden Affair: The Greenwald-Omidyar-NSA Connection.”Global Research. January 8, 2014.
- Mondalek, Mark. “BFP Exclusive: And an Oligarch Shall Lead Them: Omidyar, Greenwald & First Look Media’s Attack on the Future of the Press.” Boiling Frog Post, October 2015.
- Slee, Tom. “Charity Assets”. The New Inquiry. November 1, 2013.
- Toms, Manu P. “Consortium including Azim Premji, Rohini Nilekani set to unveil India’s largest private trust to support independent media.” VCCircle. September 16, 2015
Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Pankaj Saxena is a scholar of History, Hindu Architecture and Literature. He has visited more than 400 sites of ancient Hindu temples and photographed the evidence. He has been writing articles, research papers and reviews in various print and online newspapers and magazines. He currently works as the Asst. Professor, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad. He has authored three books so far. He maintains a blog at http://literaryfalcon.wordpress.com/