Jimmy Wales Biography

Jimmy Wales is an American-British entrepreneur, famous as the co-founder of ‘Wikipedia’, the free online encyclopedia. As a child, he received a unique kind of private school education, where he spent many hours studying encyclopedias.

Quick Facts

Birthday: August 7, 1966

Nationality: American

Famous: Internet Entrepreneurs American Men

Age: 53 Years, 53 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Leo

Also Known As: Jimmy Donal Wales

Born Country: United States

Born in: Huntsville, Alabama, United States

Famous as: Co-founder of Wikipedia


Spouse/Ex-: Kate Garvey, Christine Rohan (m. 1997–2010), Pamela Green

father: Jimmy Sr

mother: Doris Ann (née Dudley)

children: Ada Wales, Kira Wales

U.S. State: Alabama

Ideology: Republicans

More Facts

education: Auburn University (BS), University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (MS), Indiana University, Bloomington

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Jimmy Wales is an American-British entrepreneur, famous as the co-founder of ‘Wikipedia’, the free online encyclopedia. ‘Wikipedia’ is a non-profit organization whereas his other company ‘Wikia’ is a for-profit web hosting organisation. As a child, he received a unique kind of private school education, where he spent many hours studying encyclopedias. As a teenager, he transferred to a college-prep school and earned a master’s degree in finance. He also taught in two universities and later worked as a finance trader. Fascinated by the Internet, he quit his job to start a male-oriented website ‘Bomis' that was unsuccessful. He then started an online encyclopedia, ’Nupedia’, with Larry Sanger. It later became ‘Wikipedia’ and was a wildly successful venture. Then, he started a non-profit company ‘Wikimedia Foundation’. But relations between him and Sanger soured and he tried to denounce Sanger as the co-founder of ‘Wikipedia.' He has served on the boards of many think-tanks and tech corporates, even advising the UK government on cyber-activity matters. He has received many awards and honorary degrees from universities across the world.

Childhood & Early Life
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  • In 1994, Jimmy Wales shifted to Chicago and took up a job as a futures and options trader at ‘Chicago Options Associates’.
  • By 1997, the advancements in the Internet had completely fascinated him and he quit his job to start his own company.
  • In 1998 (1996)1, he and his partners, Tim Shell and Michael Davis, started ‘Bomis’, a website that was targeted towards male users. It gave information on sporting activities, automobiles, women and provided explicit content.
  • ‘Bomis’ was heavily criticized for its content and was regarded unsuccessful. But it gave him the necessary capital for his next venture.
  • Jimmy Wales met his next business partner, Larry Sanger, as a fellow-follower of ‘Ayn Rand Philosophy Discussion List’, where Sanger was a moderator.
  • In March 2000, the duo launched ‘Nupedia’, a free online encyclopedia whose content was contributed by experts and scholars. It was then peer-reviewed and finally vetted by Sanger, who was the editor-in-chief.
  • He found the peer-review process lacking and a slow one, and began looking for an alternative, which he found in the concept of ‘wiki’ that was introduced to him by a programmer, Ben Kovitz.
  • On January 15, 2001, he and Sanger launched the ‘wiki’ version of ‘Nupedia’ called ‘Wikipedia’, which became very successful among users, very fast.
  • In 2002, he started ‘Wikimedia Foundation’ (WMF), a non-profit organization and transferred all his controlling powers of ‘Wikipedia’ to it after the departure of Sanger earlier in the year due to lack of funding from ‘Bomis’.
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  • By 2003, he had decided to keep ‘Wikipedia’ free of funding by means of advertising revenue and open to all.
  • In 2004, he and fellow ‘WMF’ board member, Angela Beesley, founded a for-profit company ‘Wikia’, which is essentially a web-hosting service for sites created using the ‘wiki’ model.
  • In 2005, he conducted extensive edits to his own ‘Wikipedia’ page, a practice that is heavily denounced on the website. He became a board member at a provider of wiki technology to corporates called ‘Socialtext’.
  • In 2006, he stepped down as CEO of ‘Wikia’ but became a board member at another non-profit organization ‘Creative Commons’.
  • In 2008, a former employee of ‘WMF’ accused him of misusing ‘WMF’ funds for personal purposes.
  • In 2012, he reportedly advised the UK authorities on making academic research freely available online.
  • In 2014, he was part of a landmark case of ‘Google v. Gonzalez’ pertaining to privacy laws.
  • In 2017, he announced the launch of ‘WikiTribune’, a free online publication aimed at fighting fake news.
  • In 2019, he reportedly started a social network free of advertisements called ‘WT:Social’.
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Awards & Achievements
  • In 2005, ‘Harvard Law School’s’ ‘Berkman Centre for Internet and Society’ offered him a fellowship.
  • In 2008, Jimmy Wales was the co-chair at ‘World Economic Forum’ and recipient of ‘The 2008 Global Brand Icon of the Year’ award.
  • In 2011, he received the prestigious ‘Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize' and several honorary degrees from universities in America and abroad.
  • In 2013, he received the ‘UNESCO Niels Bohr Medal’.
  • In 2014, he was the co-recipient of the million-dollar ‘Mohammed bin Rashid Knowledge Award’.
  • In 2015, he was awarded the ‘Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service’.
  • In 2016, he received the honorary citizenship of the Italian region of Esino Lario.
  • In 2017, he received the ‘President’s Medal’ from the ‘British Academy’ for development of ‘Wikipedia’.
Family & Personal Life
  • In 1986, Jimmy Wales married Pamela Green in Alabama who worked with him at a grocery store during his college years. In 1993, they got a divorce.
  • In 1997, he married Christine Rohan, in Florida, who he met while working in Chicago. They had a daughter together.
  • In 2008, Jimmy and Christine got divorced and he had a short relationship with a political columnist, Rachel Marsden, that year.
  • In 2012, he married his third wife, Kate Garvey, in London. They met at Davos, Switzerland. They have two daughters. He currently lives in London with his family.

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Jimmy Wales

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