Alabama Not Just Football: 30 Amazing People Who Were Built By Bama

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Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales is the founder of Wikipedia, a native of Huntsville, AL and a graduate of the University of Alabama. He holds an MS in Finance from UA. After graduating from Alabama, Wales enrolled in a finance PhD program at Indiana University. He took classes but did not complete a dissertation.

Instead of writing a dissertation, Wales took a job with a futures and options trading firm in Chicago. In his spare time, he wrote computer code and played virtual role playing games. Looking to recreate the success of the 1995 Netscape IPO, Wales and two coworkers at his trading firm left to found an internet company.

Bomis, Jimmy Wales’ first company, was designed as a search engine targeted at a similar audience to that of Maxim magazine. Though Bomis failed, it provided the initial funding for Nupedia, the precursor for Wikipedia.

In March 2000, Jimmy Wales began work as the editor-in-chief of Nupedia, founded to be a peer-reviewed, open-content encyclopedia. The peer-review process at Nupedia, which involved review by leading academics, proved too intimidating for most contributors. The unpaid writers were unwilling to face rigorous academic scrutiny and Nupedia never reached the desired amount of content.

In 2001, Wales’ Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger was introduced to the wiki model, where multiple contributors could work in small amounts simultaneously and produce more content in a less intimidating way. In January of 2001, Wikipedia was launched as a non-profit. In 2004, Wikia was created as a for-profit collection of topic specific Wikis.

Jimmy Wales currently serves as the President of Wikia, Inc., and as the Chairman Emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation. He lives in London.

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