Power to the People
While many could only see the proprietary dilemma in open source software, Jimmy Wales envisioned an online encyclopedia that could be added to, edited and referenced by the general public. In 2001, he launched Wikipedia, now the world's largest encyclopedia with over 6 million articles in 250 languages.
In 2004, Wales joined forces with Wikipedia community member Angela Beesely, 29, to start Wikia, a hosting service for more than 2,000 community-based wikis. Described by Wales as the "library or magazine rack" to go with the encyclopedia, Wikia has received $4 million in funding and is growing 12 percent to 15 percent a month. The San Mateo, California-based site brings in ad-supported revenue and runs at minimal cost. Next up for Wikia: a search engine to challenge Google. Wales, 40, says, "We have a broad public project to build a completely transparent open source search engine where the community controls the search results."