Jimmy Wales is an American Internet entrepreneur known for his role in the creation of Wikipedia, a free, open-content encyclopedia launched in 2001. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, holding the board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004, he co-founded Wikia, a privately owned, free Web-hosting service, along with Angela Beesley.
Together with Larry Sanger and others, Wales helped lay the foundation for Wikipedia, which subsequently enjoyed rapid growth and popularity. As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Wales took on the role of the project's spokesman and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances. Wales has been historically cited as the co-founder of Wikipedia but he disputes the "co-" designation, asserting that he is the sole founder of Wikipedia. Wales' work developing Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of the world's most influential people.
Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Wales attended a small private school, then a university preparation school, eventually attaining a bachelor's degree and master's degree in finance. During his graduate studies he taught at two universities.
Question: Should the government do more to encourage innovation?
Jimmy Wales: I think a lot of innovation just happens when you get the government out of the way. Alot of times when people talk about encouraging innovation, what they end up thinking about way too much is some massive public subsidies for some new chip manufacturing something-something. And it’s usually a complete and total fiasco because you get the wrong types of people coming in, the wrong types of politically-connected businesses doing things that make no sense because they’re being subsidized to do it. I think it’s really important to recognize that it’s very, very difficult for the government to encourage innovation. The most important thing you could do is just get out of our way.
Recorded On: Aug 10, 2007