Jimmy Wales is an American digital entrepreneur, best known for founding Wikipedia.org, the platform which has fundamentally changed information is consumed globally.
Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama. He received his Bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University and his Master’s in finance from the University of Alabama. He was appointed fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School 2005- 2006, and he joined the Board of Directors of the for-profit organisation Creative Commons in 2006.
In January of 2001, Wales started Wikipedia.org, the free online encyclopedia created by the public. Today, Wikipedia and its sister projects are among the top-five most visited websites on the internet. In mid 2003, Wales set up the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida, to support Wikipedia.org. The Foundation is now based in downtown San Francisco and boasts a staff of close to 200, focusing on fundraising, technology, and programming of Wikipedia. Wales now sits on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, and as its original innovator, continues to act as its key spokesperson.
In 2004, Wales co-founded Wikia.com, which enables groups of people to share information and opinions that fall outside the scope of an encyclopedia. Wikia’s community-created wikis range from video games, movies, finance and environmental issues. Wikia attracts more than 120 million unique visitors per month and is currently ranked number 20 on Quantcast.
In 2007, the World Economic Forum named Wales one of its Young Global Leaders. The award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society, and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world. Today, Wales serves as a board member for the organisation. Additionally, Wales received the Time 100 Award in 2006 as part of the “Scientists and Thinkers” category. In 2012, he was tasked with advising British civil servants on how to better engage the public through the internet. In 2013, he joined the board of the Forum of Young Global Leaders.
In December 2013, Wales was awarded the UNESCO Niels Bohr Medal in Copenhagen, Denmark at a conference on “An Open World” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Niels Bohr’s atomic theory.
In January 2014, Wales was appointed co-chairman of The People’s Operator, a UK-based mobile operator that enables users to donate 10 percent of their phone bill to a cause of their choice.
In February 2014, Wales was named one of “25 Web Superstars” by The Daily Telegraph.
In May 2014, Wales became Doctor Honoris Causa of the Faculty of Communication Sciences of the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI Lugano, Switzerland). Later that month, Wales was invited by Google to join their advisory committee/
In June 2014, Wales received the honorary award of Doctor of Letters from Glasgow Caledonian University.
Wales is currently living in London, which he intends to make his permanent home.
Jimmy Wales delivered keynote speeches at One Young World 2014 Dublin and One Young World 2012 Pittsburgh.