Philanthropistand former eBay president Jeff Skoll has launched Participant Productions, aLos Angeles-based company to focus on socially relevant features highlightingsocial injustice and related themes.

Financing is inplace for the company to produce four to six pictures a year ranging from lessthan $5m to up to $40m. It marks SkollC;s second foray into film: his othercompany Ovation Entertainment was also devised to make socially relevantstories and has so far produced House Of D directed by and starring David Duchovny and Eulogy with Ray Romano, Debra Winger and KellyPreston. Both are set to be released theatrically by Lions Gate Films.

Skoll's new teamat Participant includes former ContentFilm business affairs and acquisitionschief Michael Roban as executive vice president of business affairs, and formerCasey Silver Productions executive Chris Salvaterra as executive vice presidentof creative affairs.

Chris Adams, formerly of Lycos and, joins assenior vice president of business development, former MGM top brass Jeff Iversbecomes chief financial officer, and Nate Moore, who worked for ShannonGaulding and Jonathan Kadin at Columbia Pictures, joins as a creativeexecutive. Rick Hess at CAA is representing the company.

The company hasalready established a relationship with producer Ed Saxon, whose creditsinclude Adaptationand Philadelphia,while former Columbia Pictures president Peter Schlessel will serve onParticipant's board of directors.

"We share apassion for spotlighting a different kind of protagonist - social entrepreneurs- empowered individuals driven to change the world around them," Skoll said ina statement.

"The team willlead Participant in finding socially relevant projects with broad commercialappeal - stories like Erin Brockovich, Gandhi or Schindler's List - which highlight these battles against injustices and bridge thegulf between the haves and the have-nots."

Participant hasalready taken into pre-production American Gun, a co-production with IFC Productionswhich presents a series of interwoven storylines focusing on the proliferationof guns in America. It will be distributed domestically by IFC Films.

Aric Avelinomakes his writing and directing debut on the project and offers are out toDonald Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Linda Cardellini and GarcelleBeauvais-Nilona to star.

Skoll was eBay's first full-time employee and firstpresident. In 1998, he set up the eBay Foundation and subsequently founded TheSkoll Foundation, a network group for social entrepreneurs.