The Investment Firm From eBay’s Founder Funded This Data Outfit
The investment firm set up by eBay (EBAY) founder Pierre Omidyar has put $1 million into a British startup called digi.me, which aims to give people an easy way to sell or share their own personal data.
Digi.me is a response to the dominant online business model, which is to gather up information about people and sell it to brokers who mostly use it to target ads. The idea with the platform is to give people more control over where their data goes, and what they get in return.
The data in question would ultimately cover areas such as health, financial services, and shopping habits—although the current version of the digi.me app only pulls in pictures and posts from major social networks, such as Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR).
Rather than digi.me getting its own hands on this data, it says that its app “simply aggregates, normalizes and encrypts” the information, which is then stored by the user, who can share it with businesses in exchange for services or rewards.
At the time, Swiss Re talked approvingly about how digi.me would give people “full transparency over how they can use their data to access services and benefits.”
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On Tuesday, digi.me founder and chairman Julian Ranger said that being part of the Omidyar Network “family” would give the startup “access to amazing businesses and non-for-profit organizations for which the transparent use of personal data will enable deeper customer relationships.”‘
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The Omidyar Network describes itself as a “philanthropic investment firm” that tries to “catalyze economic and social change” with its investments. It has put money into everything from the World Wide Web Foundation and the Khan Academy to Couchsurfing, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and various financial services startups.
Digi.me isn’t the only startup dabbling in the area of giving people more control over their personal data. Another service called CitizenMe gives people “insights” about themselves based on their social media activities, while also acting as a market research tool for brands.