Jimmy Wales, born on August 7, 1966, in Huntsville, Alabama, is an American-British Internet entrepreneur renowned for co-founding the online non-profit encyclopedia, Wikipedia. He later started the for-profit web-hosting company, Wikia. Having a net worth of $1.5 million, Wales has made significant contributions to the digital landscape, notably by choosing to keep Wikipedia ad-free and non-profit, leading some to speculate on the billions of dollars he potentially left on the table.
What was Jimmy Wales’ early life like?
Born to Jimmy Sr., a grocery store manager, and Doris Ann, who ran a private school named House of Learning, Wales grew up in an environment that emphasized the value of education. With three siblings, he received primary education at his mother’s school, fostering his passion for reading, especially encyclopedias. Recognizing gaps in traditional encyclopedias, Wales nurtured the idea that would one day become Wikipedia. After completing education at his mother’s school, he went to Randolph school and later pursued a bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University in 1986. While he initiated a Ph.D. program and taught during his postgraduate studies, he never completed his dissertation.
How did Jimmy Wales start his career?
In 1994, Wales embarked on his career at Chicago Options Associates, an options trading firm. However, his interest in computer networks and coding led him to found Bomis, a web portal, in 1996 with two partners. Although Bomis wasn’t a roaring success, it became the stepping stone for Wales’ next big venture. In 2000, alongside Larry Sanger, he launched Nupedia, an open-content, peer-reviewed online encyclopedia. Yet, its slow growth birthed the idea of Wikipedia, which soon surpassed Nupedia in content and users.
Why is Wikipedia non-profit?
Wales’ philosophy about knowledge dissemination is evident in Wikipedia’s non-profit model. He believed that knowledge should be free and accessible to all. This principle took precedence over potential revenue streams. In a 2013 interview with the New York Times, Wales expressed his indifference towards the potential billions he could have made, emphasizing his passion for the project and its impact.
What is Jimmy Wales’ personal life like?
Wales’ personal life has been eventful. He has been married thrice. His first marriage to Pamela Green ended in 1993. He later married Christine Rohan, with whom he had a daughter before their separation in 2008. A brief relationship with columnist Rachel Marsden stirred controversy, primarily due to its initiation over Marsden’s Wikipedia biography. In 2012, Wales married Kate Garvey, and they share two daughters. A British citizen since 2019, Wales resides in London. He enjoys cooking, is passionate about philosophy, identifies as an Objectivist, and is an atheist.
How has Jimmy Wales influenced the tech world?
Beyond Wikipedia, Wales has been an influential figure in the tech community. His formation of the Wikimedia Foundation, and later Wikia, showcases his ongoing commitment to collaborative knowledge-sharing. He has actively participated in debates and discussions on Internet freedom and privacy, making him a prominent figure in digital rights activism. Recognizing his contributions, Wales has received numerous awards and has served on several prestigious boards, emphasizing his influence and importance in the digital age.