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Jimmy Wales: Meet the Founder of Wikipedia

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Jimmy Wales is the famous Internet entrepreneur who founded the Internet based non-profit encyclopedia known as “Wikipedia.” He also established the for-profit Web-hosting organization known as Wikia and worked as an advisor for government and various universities. 

Jimmy Wales: Early Life

Jimmy Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama on 7th August, 1966. His father was a grocery store manager, while his mother and grandmother ran a small private school. Jimmy together with his three siblings received his early education in that very school.

As a kid, Jimmy was always a keen learner with an eye of detail. Till his eighth grade, he received his education based on Montessori education system. Then, he spent majority of his time in reading Britannicas and World Book Encyclopedias. This later became the proven grounds of his acute learning and creative thinking, as cited by Jimmy himself during an interview in the year 2005. 


After his eighth grade, jimmy went to Randolph School in Huntsville, from where he graduated at the age of sixteen. According to Jimmy, it was difficult for his family to afford such as expensive education, yet the sole purpose of learning remained the main passion.

Jimmy attended Auburn University where he pursued finance as the main discipline. He also kicked off with a doctoral program in finance at the University of Alabama from where he obtained his master’s degree to pursue the PhD finance program at Indiana University.

Jimmy Wales: Birth of Wikipedia

Jimmy dropped out of his school to opt for a job in a financial services firm. Having been primarily interested in the Internet from its earliest days, Jimmy left his job in the year 1996 to establish a startup called “Bomis.” Although the venture didn’t turn out to be successful, it imbued Jimmy to come up with an online encyclopedia. 

In the year 2000, he launched an open content reference site known as “Nupedia.” Larry Sanger served the organization as the editor-in-chief. Larry came to know about wikis in the year 2001 and Jimmy agreed to adopt the prototype. They worked toward both Wikipedia and Nupedia that co-existed for a short duration.

Interestingly, Wikipedia began attracting more traffic and participation than Nupedia. In the year 2002, Larry left both the organizations because of non-availability of funds that were required for continuing his position. Both Larry and Jimmy publicly faced a tiff over the former person’s role at Wikipedia. 

While Larry would claim himself a co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy would claim total abstract ownership of the venture.

Jimmy Wales: Additional Ventures

In the year 2004, Jimmy established a for-profit Internet organization called Wikia with his colleague Angela Beesley. In the year 2009, he withdrew from his position as the CEO of the company. In the year 2012, Jimmy became an advisor to the British government on potential open access initiatives.

The prime objective of the project was to enable the access of government-funded research to taxpayers for free. Besides his official obligations, Jimmy has served on the advisory boards of numerous academic research centers. 

Jimmy Wales: Personal Life

Jimmy has been married thrice and has two daughters. He has received numerous accolades and honorary degrees from various institutions that include Amherst College.

Jimmy is a clear atheist who believes in objectivism that gives power to individualism, reason, and capitalism. The philosophy was apparently popularized by the author Ayn Rand. 

Jimmy Wales: Awards and Recognition

In the year 2006, Jimmy was included in the “Scientists & Thinkers” category of the Time 100. The same year, he was included in the Forbes list of “The Web Celebs 25.”

He has received many notable awards including Pioneer Award, Monaco Media Prize, and Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize etc.

Jimmy Wales is truly one of the most remarkable Web personalities the world has ever seen. Your take?


  1. I never know the founder’s name of wikipedia. Glad to know that. Great info and now I can recognize him 🙂

  2. I have heard about this person already. Great to know that wikipedia is a non profit organization. Simply great. Thanks for the post.

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