Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales

Founder of Wikipedia and One of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”

Speaker Categories: | Headliners - Technology | Internet/E-Commerce | Corporate Culture | Leadership | Entrepreneurship and Small Business | Innovation | Corporate Culture | Innovation and Creativity | Business Leaders and CEOs | Cybersecurity and Big Data

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Founder of Wikipedia and
One of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”

Ranked by Forbes Magazine as a “Web Celeb”, Jimmy Donal Wales is a U.S. Internet entrepreneur, wiki pioneer, and technology visionary, who is best known as the Founder of Wikipedia, an international collaborative free content encyclopedia on the Internet, and the Wikimedia Foundation. He is co-founder of Wikia, a privately owned free web hosting service he set up in 2004.

Wikipedia

The origins of Wikipedia began in March 2000, when Mr. Wales started Nupedia (“the free encyclopedia”), which was characterized by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed “Wikipedia.” Mr. Wales laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was initially intended to be a wiki-based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to Nupedia, but Wikipedia's rapid growth quickly overshadowed Nupedia's development.

In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Mr. Wales explained his motivations about Wikipedia, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.”

TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People"

The success of the project has helped popularize a trend in web development (called Web 2.0) that aims to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users. As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Mr. Wales took on the role of the project's spokesperson and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances. His work with Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted TIME Magazine to name him one of its “100 Most Influential People,” in 2006 in the “Scientists & Thinkers” category.

Nonprofit

In 2003, Mr. Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, the 5th most popular website in the world.

Wikea, Inc.

In 2004, Wales co-founded, with Angela Beesley, the for-profit company Wikia, Inc. Wikia is a wiki farm — a collection of individual wikis on different subjects, all hosted on the same website. As part of his work at Wikia, Inc., Mr. Wales is developing a human-powered search engine, Search Wikia, which will be based on the same open, transparent, community-driven principles of Wikia and Wikipedia.

Accolades

The World Economic Forum recognized Wales as one of the “Young Global Leaders” of 2007. This prestigious award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders across the world for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society, and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

WikiTribune

In 2017, Wales founded WikiTribune, an ad-free global news platform that aims to address the idea that “the news is broken and we can fix it.” By pairing standards-based journalism with a team of dedicated community contributors and a crowdfunded business model, WikiTribune ensures articles are fact-checked and un-biased, sources are transparent, and users have the ability to flag and contribute to the articles they read.  As citizens’ demand for reliable, fact-based journalism grows ever-louder, Wales is blazing a path forward that will reshape news media.

Affililiations

Mr. Wales is a Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. He serves on the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses and the non-profit organization Creative Commons. Mr. Wales has received an honorary doctorate from Knox College of Illinois and was presented with a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2006.

Education

Mr. Wales received his bachelor's degree in finance from Auburn University and started with the Ph.D. finance program at the University of Alabama, where he left with a Master's. After that, he took courses offered in the Ph.D. finance program at Indiana University. He taught at both universities during his postgraduate studies, but did not write the doctoral dissertation required to earn a Ph.D.

From 1994 to 2000, Wales was the research director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago.

Facts Matter: The Wiki Story

In the latest election cycles around the world, we have been inundated with a deluge of misinformation ranging from bias to outright fake news. Jimmy Wales reports from the front lines of the information wars to explain how the Wikipedia community has successfully maintained quality through experienced human curation and offers insights into how quality journalism can survive.

An Evening with Jimmy Wales: The Future

Jimmy Wales speaks on a wide range of issues surrounding the future of technology, including the benefits of a globally connected world with free access to human knowledge. He also addresses threats to that vision, including government reach into web data in the name of national security and censorship by governments to control access to information. He speaks fluidly about future technologies including artificial intelligence, driverless cars, and the value of open software.

Cybersecurity in the Digital Age

In this insightful speech, Jimmy Wales tackles the topic of cybersecurity. He addresses the dangers of government snooping, the value of encryption, and the negative impact of cybersecurity failures on freedom of expression and democracy.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

As the internet continues to grow and change at exponential rates, Jimmy Wales discusses how open-source, open-content technology will affect the fundamental ways that businesses interact with customers, distributors, suppliers, and the public in the future.

A ‘Wiki’ Future

As a leading technology futurist, Mr. Wales presents how open-source, open-content technology is changing the face of the internet and how businesses must adapt in the face of this rapidly evolving technology in order to compete and innovate. Businesses today are starting to use the same collaborative tools that Wikipedia employs, and it's worth learning from the monumental success of the Wikipedia model.

Global Democracy and the Internet

Freedom of speech and the distribution of knowledge is the foundation of Wikipedia. Mr. Wales predicts that the internet will democratize developing countries by making the world ‘flat,’ opening markets, promoting cultural understanding, and giving developing nations the resources they need to compete in the 21st century. With current total Internet usage by one billion people set to double in the next five to 10 years (with the majority of new users arising from developing nations), Mr. Wales asserts that internet will combat stereotypes, censorship, media control, and monopolies while simultaneously allowing citizens of developing nations to have a more prominent voice. As Mr. Wales states: "It does not take a lot of technology to foster open dialog and debate. Even the simplest technologies like mailing lists, wikis, blogs can help a lot. What is needed mostly, I think, is more content in local languages, and support from people around the world to help others join in the global conversation."

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Testimonials

  • "We were all so thrilled with Jimmy. He was so open and dedicated to share with us, McCann people, media, students and the keynote audience such inspiring stories about him, Wikipedia and basically about such a wide array of interconnected subjects. We were all inspired in such a fantastic way by his presence here."


    McCann/Thiess
  • "Jimmy Wales was wonderful; he is definitely a 'kind and thoughtful human being' which was a phrase he repeated several time during the presentation and conversations. And if he thinks those are important traits for his website, then he must possess them! I would highly recommend him to any group, he was funny and engaging, and a total pleasure to be with. "


    Flexible Packaging Association
  • "Thank you for your participation on IWF's global stage last week in San Francisco as we explored Ideas Remaking the World in a New Age of Discovery with nearly 800 leaders from 40 nations. It was our distinct pleasure to have you with us, and we thank you for making a difference. The feedback for the event has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are grateful for your considerable contribution to it. Thank you for helping to shape the discussion and to inform the world's women leaders."


    International Women's Forum
  • "Jimmy was really great. Of course he is smart, thoughtful and visionary, all which worked well on our campus. But his presentation was well constructed, interactive and engaging. He definitely connected with our students. Would recommend him for any college audience. Really nice job. "


    Stanford University
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