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: What is Wikia Search’s business model?
Jimmy Wales: Yes, we haven’t really thought about it very much. I mean, our basic view is that advertising is a good way to support search. And one of the things that I can really put a huge amount of praise on Google for is that they really pioneered the low impact unintrusive advertising on search. And really realizing that the best way to make money from search is to be relevant with the advertising. And that’s always been their principle, and it’s a good principle. So you know, at least initially that’s kind of the thinking. I mean, certainly we don’t have any sort of crazy weird business model ideas like charging people to search, or charging people for listings, right, that’s a really bad model. But we’re really just saying, “Well, we know search monetizes, so if we can do a good job, we’ll figure something out.” So how would that be different from Google’s model? Probably wouldn’t be much different at all. In fact, one of the fairly obvious places we might want to turn is directly to Google to partner with them for the ads. I mean, they do a good job. So you know, it’s not a business that we’re interested in competing with Google on right now.
Question: Have you approached them yet?
Jimmy Wales: Well, we already do. We already have ads. So Wikia, everybody likes to talk about the search project, because it’s kind of the interesting thing that peaks people’s interest. We have over 6,000 different Wiki communities on all kinds of topics. Like World of Warcraft Wiki’s one of the most popular. And we do partner already with Google to provide ads for the Wiki’s, and well, it seems fine, so.
Date Recorded: 4/30/08