Ranked by Forbes Magazine as a "Web Celeb", Jimmy Wales is a U.S. Internet entrepreneur, wiki pioneer, and technology visionary, who is best known as the Founder of Wikipedia, an international collaborative free content encyclopedia on the Internet, and the Wikimedia Foundation. He is co-founder of Wikia, a privately owned free web hosting service he set up in 2004.
The origins of Wikipedia began in March 2000, when Wales started Nupedia ("the free encyclopedia"), which was characterised by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed "Wikipedia." Wales laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was initially intended to be a wiki-based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to Nupedia, but Wikipedia's rapid growth quickly overshadowed Nupedia's development.
In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Wales explained his motivations about Wikipedia, "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." The success of the project has helped popularise a trend in web development (called Web 2.0) that aims to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users.
In 2003, Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organisation dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, the fifth most popular website in the world.