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Jimmy Wales

Founder of Wikipedia & Wikitribune

Founder of Wikipedia & Wikitribune

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London, UK
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Jimmy Wales Biography

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 also the founder of WikiTribune, a groundbreaking ad-free news platform that produces evidence-based journalism, and co-founder of Wikia, a privately owned free web hosting service he set up in 2004.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 numerous academic institutions, including Knox College of Illinois where he was presented with a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Maastricht University, where he received the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service.

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.

Jimmy Wales Speaking Topics

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

Jimmy Wales Videos

  • Wikipedia: Beyond the Encyclopedia | SXSW Interactive 2016
  • Beyond Ourselves - Becky Anderson, Lily Cole & Jimmy Wales - Zeitgeist 2012
  • Beyond Ourselves - Becky Anderson, Lily Cole & Jimmy Wales - Zeitgeist 2012

Jimmy Wales Books

  • Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia (Internet Biographies)
    Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia (Internet Biographies)

FAQs on booking Jimmy Wales

  • How do I book Jimmy Wales to speak at my event?

    Our experienced booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure speakers like Jimmy Wales for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment since 2002. Click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page to check availability for Jimmy Wales, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get speaking fee information and check availability for Jimmy Wales or any other speaker of your choice.
  • What are the speaker fees for Jimmy Wales

    Speaking fees for Jimmy Wales, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Jimmy Wales are for live events and for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Jimmy Wales, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does Jimmy Wales speak about?

  • Where does Jimmy Wales travel from?

    Jimmy Wales generally travels from London, UK, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
  • Who is Jimmy Wales’s agent?

    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Jimmy Wales for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Jimmy Wales for your next private or corporate function.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host Jimmy Wales or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.
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Jimmy Wales is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Democracy and the Internet, A Wiki Future and Harnessing the Power of Social Media. The estimated speaking fee range to book Jimmy Wales for your event is $50,000 - $100,000. Jimmy Wales generally travels from LondonUK and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Ray Kurzweil, Dr. Michio Kaku, Peter Diamandis, Clay Shirky and John Legend. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Jimmy Wales for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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