Jimmy Wales

From Encyc
Jump to: navigation, search
Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, a.k.a. Jimbo Wales, is the de facto leader of Wikipedia. He cofounded the encyclopedia with Larry Sanger, but later began claiming to be the online encyclopedia's sole founder.

Salary and Net Worth

Jimmy Wales' net worth is a little over one million dollars. That figure includes stock in Wikia.

For over five years, Jimmy Wales' biography on Wikipedia claimed that he was independently wealthy, giving the impression that he founded Wikipedia out of altruism. According to Wikipedia, Wales made enough money while working in the finance industry in Chicago to "support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives".[1] An article in Wired was cited.[2] However on the talk page, Wales claimed that his net worth was considerably less: "I do not have millions of dollars. I do not even have one million dollars."[3][4] The error was finally corrected on July 18, 2011.[5]

As reported by Gregory Kohs in The Examiner in 2011, Wales stated a net worth of around a half a million dollars in his divorce settlement.[6] He reported spending around $21,000 a month. The New York Times Magazine reports a net worth of around one million dollars in 2013, including stock from Wikia.[7]

It is likely that Wales makes his living from Wikipedia. He is not paid directly by the Wikimedia Foundation, and he claims that he is not reimbursed for expenses while conducting Wikipedia business, even when traveling to board meetings. The way Mr. Wales makes a living is by getting $50,000 to $70,000 per speaking engagement when he goes and lectures about Wikipedia.[8][9][10][11]. He is represented by the Harry Walker Agency[12].

How does Jimmy Wales make money? In his own words:

Speaking, yes. Writing. Serving on boards (I was on the board of Hunch for example). I take no salary or expenses from the Wikimedia Foundation because as the main "face" of the fundraiser, it's important that people understand that donor money is not for me.[13]

He also uses these speaking opportunities to publicize a side project, Wikia, which is for-profit. Wikipedia deviates from its usual low tolerance for spam, allowing thousands of links to Wikia and not giving them the usual "no follow" treatment, thus elevating Wikia's search engine rankings. This "interwiki" treatment is not always available to other websites. At the same time "deletionist" supporters encourage removal of content from Wikipedia and relocation to Wikia, where it can be monetized by being displayed along with advertising.

Business relationships


Soft-core pornography web portal and dot-com company founded by Jimmy Wales, Tim Shell, and Michael Davis in 1996. Jimmy Wales was CEO. It created Nupedia and Wikipedia. Eventually Wikipedia was moved to the Wikimedia Foundation, with the founders taking chairs on the Board of Trustees.


Co-founder and former CEO. Uses status as Wikipedia founder to promote Wikia. On Wikipedia, much fan-generated content gets labeled "fancruft" and is deleted from the encyclopedia, then pushed into Wikia where it is monetized.

An investment in Wikia can precede one getting a seat on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, as with Matt Halprin of the Omidyar Network.

Wikia Search was a project that abruptly disappeared with no warning.

The People's Operator

The People's Operator is a virtual mobile network based in the United Kingdom. The company claims to give a percentage of profits to charity. Jimmy Wales is a co-chair.[14]


Hunch was a corporation that was funded by about $20 million in venture capital, then sold to Ebay for about $80 million. It was co-founded by Caterina Fake, notable for also having co-founded Flickr. The business had something to do with using mathematics to figure out what users want to see. Ebay is using it to make better product recommendations. Funded by:

  • Khosla Ventures (Vinod Khosla)
  • General Catalyst Partners
  • Bessemer Venture Partners

Bessemer Venture Partners

Venture capitalist group that funded Wikia and Hunch.

Vinod Khosla

Venture capitalist whose group funded Hunch and who also donated $500,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation in 2008. Khosla Ventures has strategic ties to Tony Blair Associates.

Tony Blair

Former diary secretary Kate Garvey married Jimmy Wales. Started Tony Blair Associates and advises Kazakhstan government.

Wikimedia Foundation

Jimmy Wales was co-founder and original chair of the Foundation. He left in 2006 and became chair emeritus when he founded Wikia, a for-profit wiki that takes certain kinds of user-generated content that are no longer welcome on Wikipedia, and monetizes that content via advertising.

Creative Commons

Non-profit organization that develops legal and technical ways to share intellectual property. Jimmy Wales is on the board along with Caterina Fake and others.


Jimmy Wales claims to have no connection with Wikileaks (wikileaks.org) or Julian Assange. However his company, Wikia, owned the domain names wikileaks.com, wikileaks.net, and wikileaks.us. All three of these sites directed visitors to Wikileaks content, including classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents, before Wikia sold the domain names to Wikileaks.

Jimmy Wales Foundation

The Jimmy Wales Foundation received its funding, $500,000, from the United Arab Emirates.


Non-profit charity organization against online hostility and bullying.


Altruism-based social network where users donate their own services.

Three Apes

Search engine started by Jimmy Wales in the late '90s, before Bomis. It lasted for three months before being taken over by Chinese hackers.


Defunct Wikia side-project that offered free hosting to open source developers. Started in 2006, it currently reads:

It works!

This is the default web page for this server.

The web server software is running but no content has been added, yet.

Founder of Wikipedia question

There are 3 names: Jimbo Wales, Larry Sanger and Ben Kovitz.

There is no doubt that Jimbo Wales was the founder of Nupedia, which was the forerunner to Wikipedia. However, Larry Sanger claims that Jimbo Wales was not the sole founder of Wikipedia - Larry Sanger claims that Larry Sanger himself was a co-founder.

The reality is that it was Ben Kovitz's idea to use an open sourced model for Nupedia. Ben Kovitz discussed the idea with Larry Sanger, who agreed to it, and Larry Sanger then presented it to his boss, Jimbo Wales.

In technical terms, Ben Kovitz was the founder, however Ben Kovitz had nothing to do with the project beyond that, so does not wish to be described as such. Larry Sanger did more than anyone else to implement it, but Jimbo Wales was the boss the entire time.

Leader of Wikipedia question

Jimbo Wales

Wikipedia is currently managed by the Wikimedia foundation (it was initially run by Bomis, but this ceased several years ago). Jimbo Wales is not the head of the Wikimedia foundation, hence Jimbo Wales cannot accurately be described as the leader of Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation could, in theory at least, fire Jimbo Wales.

The reality, however, is that what Jimbo says goes, and he has more actual power than anyone else. Other than a few nit pickers, nobody seriously questions whether or not Jimbo Wales runs it.

Wikitruth described Jimbo Wales as the God-King.

Jimbo's vision - what he wants Wikipedia to be

Jimbo Wales wants Wikipedia to be open for everyone. He does not like to ban anyone, and indeed refused to ban anyone at all initially and did not allow admins to have the ability to ban. Jimbo is also keen on privacy, to the extent that admins cannot even see IP addresses, and to see something as commonplace as an IP address requires special magical CheckUser abilities that only a select few have.

Sadly, such rules end up being abused and making it less private than ever and more able to be abused with power tripping and corruption than a more open system.

Jimbo's vision is to create a serious encyclopaedia. He doesn't particularly like it when people make fun of it, or treat it as anything less than super serious.

Biographies on Wikipedia

"I'd be happy to have, in theory, a good, neutral biography on every single person on the planet." - Jimmy Wales[15]

While Jimmy Wales uses his influence to control his own biography on Wikipedia, he is less willing to help prevent defamation and invasion of privacy on other biography pages.

His Wikipedia biography has propagated misleading information about his wealth for several years now, and, unlike most of Wikipedia, cannot be edited unless the user first registers an account and waits several days. According to Wikipedia, the article is "semi-protected to prevent libelous additions".

There is also confusion about Wales' date of birth, confusion which he refuses to clear up without conditions. Encyclopedia Britannica lists August 7, 1966. Wales says that this is wrong, but refuses to provide Britannica with the correct date and supporting documentation unless they promise not to publish his date of birth.[16]

Relationship with Rachel Marsden

The way Wikipedia recounts Jimmy Wales' romantic relationship with Rachel Marsden is interesting because it is different in their two biography articles.

Jimmy Wales article: Wales had a brief relationship with Canadian conservative columnist Rachel Marsden in 2008 that began after Marsden contacted Wales about her Wikipedia biography.[117] After accusations that Wales's relationship constituted a conflict of interest, Wales stated that there had been a relationship but that it was over and said that it had not influenced any matters on Wikipedia,[118][119] a claim which was disputed by Marsden.[120]

Rachel Marsden article: Marsden contacted Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales in 2006, claiming that her Wikipedia biography was libelous. Wales stated his involvement with her article was handled through the normal channels, and was "routine". He also says he "recused [himself] from any further official action", after their relationship became personal.[40][41] On February 29, 2008, the technology gossip blog Valleywag claimed Wales and Marsden had entered into a relationship, and published instant messaging chats they allegedly exchanged.[42] On the following day Wales announced on his Wikipedia user page that he was no longer involved with her. In return, Marsden, who claimed to have learned about the breakup by reading about it on Wikipedia, turned to eBay and put up for auction a T-shirt and sweater with white stains that she claimed belonged to Wales.[14][41][43][44][45][46][47]

Pornography on Wikimedia Commons

In May 2010, Jimbo attempted to delete some of the pornography from Wikimedia Commons. He was condemned by a majority of Wikimedians and pressured to remove some administrative tools from his "founder" software status.

Wikipedia was started by Bomis, an internet company that offered adult content. Bomis was founded by Jimmy Wales and Tim Shell. Bomis funded Wikipedia in the early days before Wikipedia began accepting donations.

Life in England

Jimmy Wales moved to the United Kingdom a few years ago, and makes frequent trips to the United States. He lives with his wife, Kate Garvey of Freud Communications[17], a former advisor to Tony Blair. Their first child was born in 2011, and they married in the fall of 2012[18].

Wikipedia was slow to record these events. As of July 28, 2011, Wales' biography in Wikipedia still said that he "has one child". [19]. As of October 23, 2011, Wikipedia failed to acknowledge the existence of his second child[20], even though he mentioned the baby in an interview with the Independent.[21] This was finally corrected in January 2012.[22]

Wikipedia currently lists his residence as London, England, UK.[23]


Jimmy Wales talks about trolls.
  • "It is unfortunate that there was any debate at all here. This was pretty clearly a case of trolling. I would recommend a checkuser on various parties involved to see who else we ought to block in this nonsense. People are really missing the point if they think we should allow this kind of nonsense to go on. This is an encyclopedia, not a free speech zone for trolls.--Jimbo Wales 16:05, 30 August 2006 (UTC)"


  1. "In 1994, rather than writing his doctoral dissertation, Wales took a job with Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago, Illinois.[1][13][22] By "speculating on interest rate and foreign-currency fluctuations," he had soon earned enough to "support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives," according to Daniel Pink 4of Wired.[19]" http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&oldid=327215418
  2. "^ a b c d e Pink, Daniel H. (March 13, 2005). "The Book Stops Here". Wired 13 (3). http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.03/wiki.html. Retrieved October 31, 2008." http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&oldid=327215418
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Jimmy_Wales/Archive_3#A_fine_point_about_Jimmy.27s_wealth
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk%3AJimmy_Wales&action=historysubmit&diff=63247156&oldid=63246911
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&action=historysubmit&diff=442013949&oldid=440033822
  6. Jimmy and Christine Wales Divorce Settlement 2011
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/magazine/jimmy-wales-is-not-an-internet-billionaire.html
  8. http://valleywag.gawker.com/5075164/why-is-vc-jeremy-levine-lying-for-jimmy-wales
  9. http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/analysts-advise-wikipedia-to-stop-asking-for-donations/
  10. http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/wiki/foundation/66444#66444
  11. http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2006-August/022341.html
  12. http://www.harrywalker.com/speaker/Jimmy-Wales.cfm?Spea_ID=1135
  13. http://www.quora.com/Jimmy-Wales-1/How-does-Jimmy-Wales-make-money#
  14. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-01/20/jimmy-wales-tpo
  15. Wikipedians Leave Cyberspace, Meet in Egypt - The Wall Street Journal Online
  16. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1192821/Jimmy-Wales/1192821suppinfo/Supplemental-Information?anchor=toc9439003"There is some confusion over the date of Jimmy Wales’s birth. A number of sources—including Current Biography and Who’s Who in America as well as a marriage license filed in Monroe county, Florida—give his birth date as Aug. 7, 1966. In June 2007 Mr. Wales notified Britannica that this date was incorrect. However, Mr. Wales would provide Britannica with the correct date and appropriate documentation only if it was agreed that his date of birth would not be published, which runs contrary to Britannica’s policies. Given that the majority of sources report Aug. 7, 1966, and without documentation that disproves this date, Britannica has decided to give August 7."
  17. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/feb/19/interview-jimmy-wales-wikipedia
  18. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24028957-mr-wikipedia-on-todays-blackout-moving-to-london-and-marrying-a-blair-babe.do
  19. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&oldid=440033822
  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&oldid=457024569
  21. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/jimmy-wales-the-internets-shy-evangelist-2374679.html
  22. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&action=historysubmit&diff=472078568&oldid=472065586
  23. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&oldid=562327410

External links