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Jimmy Wales (or Jimbo Wales) is best known as the co-founder and promoter of the online non-profit encyclopedia Wikipedia and the for-profit Wikia web-hosting company. Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama, where he attended Randolph School, a university-preparatory school, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in finance.
While in graduate school, he taught at two universities, but left before completing a PhD in order to take a job in finance and later worked as the research director of a Chicago futures and options firm. In 1996, he and two partners founded Bomis, a male-oriented web portal featuring entertainment and adult content. The company would provide the initial funding for the peer-reviewed free encyclopedia Nupedia (2000–03) and its successor, Wikipedia.
On January 15, 2001, with Larry Sanger and others, Wales launched Wikipedia, a free, open content encyclopedia that enjoyed rapid growth and popularity, and as Wikipedia's public profile grew, he became the project's promoter and spokesman. He is historically cited as a co-founder of Wikipedia, though he has disputed the "co-" designation, declaring himself the sole founder.
Wales serves on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit charitable organization he helped establish to operate Wikipedia, holding its board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004 he co-founded Wikia, a for-profit wiki-hosting service. His role in creating Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World".
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