1) American Internet entrepreneur, Jimmy Donal Wales was born on 7th August 1966 in Huntsville, Alabama. His father, Jimmy worked as a grocery store manager and his mother along with her grandmother worked at the House of learning. Wales took his early education there. From his childhood, Wales was very intellectual and was fond of reading.
2) He attended Randolph School in Alabama, United States and got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance. He studied at two universities at the time of his graduation and left his PhD degree in between as he got a job in finance and after that he worked at Chicago futures and options firm as the research director. He was so addicted to the internet that he spent his leisure time writing computer codes. He decided to leave financial trading for becoming an internet entrepreneur. The initial public offering of Netscape inspired him in 1995.
3) Before Wikipedia was launched, Jimmy Wales founded Nupedia, a free online encyclopedia which was developed to provide free of cost experts’ contribution and peer-reviewed encyclopedia. He soon started creating a new encyclopedia called Wikipedia with the help of wiki software. Anyone could contribute to this new encyclopedia so it was bound to be more successful than Nupedia.
4) He launched Wikipedia on 15th January 2001 along with Larry Sanger. At the time of its launch, Jimmy Wales was quoted as the co-founder of Wikipedia, which is a free online encyclopedia, but later he declared himself the only owner of this rapidly growing online encyclopedia and became the promoter and spokesperson for Wikipedia.
5) He is reputed for his role in creating the world’s largest encyclopedia. His name was held in “the 100 most influential people in the world” in 2006 by the Time magazine.
6) Wales set up the Wikimedia Foundation in mid-2003 and has been a member of its Board of Trustees. He was declared the Chairman of Wikimedia Foundation from 2003 to 2006 and worked for its promotion at educational conferences.
7) In year 2008, Wales had to face controversy regarding his association with Wikimedia Foundation. He was impeached by an ex-employee of the foundation for using Foundation’s finances for leisure purposes. Wales denied all the charges levied against him and soon the chairperson of the foundation also declared that the charges against Wales were false as he was always accountable for all his expenditures.
8) As an individual Wales believes in reason, individualism, and capitalism. One could also say that he firmly adheres to the theory set by Ayn Rand – making Wales an Objectivist. Reading Rand’s novel, “The Fountainhead” became the basis for Wales to adopt this particular approach. Wales has always clearly mentioned that integrity and the virtue of importance were two of the major traits of Rand’s personality that inspired him.
9) Wales also considers himself a “libertarian”. According to him, values like freedom, liberty, and all the individual rights have been his guiding principles as a libertarian. It was in the year 2007 when one of Wales’ interviews made it to the cover of a renowned libertarian magazine, named as “Reason”. When it comes to political views, Wales considers himself as “center-right”.
10) Wales has been married three times. His first marriage was at the age of twenty, he married Pam who was his colleague at the grocery store in Alabama. After the couple broke up, he married Christine Rohan whom he met through a mutual friend. The couple got married in 1997 and had a daughter before they separated. It was in October 2012 when Wales got married to Kate Garvey. The wedding took place in London. Wales also has a daughter with Kate Garvey.
11) Wales claims to be an atheist. His belief that “Reason” has been an influencing factor for him becoming an atheist. In his interview, he clearly stated that he is a complete non-believer and proclaimed the philosophy of rationality to be his motto.
12) Wales is a member of both the MIT center for Collective Intelligence and Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. He is also the member of Board at big names like Creative Commins, Hunch. Com and Socialtext. Moreover, he has also had the privilege to be the former co-chairman of the World Economic Forum held in the Middle East in the year 2008.
13) Known for his inspirational speeches, Wales also delivered an inspirational speech to hundreds of students at one of the renowned business schools in the US. The agenda of the speech was to enlighten the student body about the use of open source technology that has made his encyclopedia a worldwide success.
14) Wales has received many awards and honors for the contributions he has made in various domains. For example, he was awarded a Pioneer Award, the Leonardo European Corporate Learning Award, and The Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize. He also won the award for Global Brand Icon of the year in 2008.
15) Before the launch of Wikipedia, Wales had never travelled outside the territory of North America. However, after the success of Wikipedia, Wales became an instant celebrity and flown around the world as the public face for the promotion of Wikipedia.
16) Wales is also socially responsible individual. It was in the year 2003 when Wales initiated a non-profit organization, named as Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) – with its headquarter in West Cost of the United States of America. The main purpose behind the establishment of the foundation was to design a policy for his projects, including an encyclopedia.
17) In November 2011, it was in the United Kingdom where Wales addressed to launch the Free Thinking Festival. The title of his speech was “The Future of the Internet” which primarily focused on Wikipedia.
18) Wales also advised the United Kingdom government on initiating the idea of making academic research, financed by taxpayers, available and accessible online for free.
19) Along with being a public speaker, he is the face of many famous brands and is currently endorsing Swiss Watch by Maurice Lacroix.
20) Gil Penchina replaced Wales as Wikia CEO in the year 2006. Penchina was the former vice president at eBay.