Jimmy Wales joins as co-chair of The People's Operator

Wikipedia co-founder took a strategic stake in the company, which donates 25% of profits to charity

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 20, 2014
Short URL:

The idea behind Wikipedia was always more than allowing people to have access to information on almost any topic at the click of a button, anything from KIm Kardashian to St. John the Baptist to the dangers of eyeball licking (yes, it is a real thing and, yes, it is super gross). It also came with a strong sense of community because of the democratic nature of the project. 

This was information passed down to all of us on high; it was being given to us by each other. Sure, that meant that the information could easily be false, but it also meant that we were in control of it. And that made the people on there a weird sort of family, in a way. 

Now Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has found himself a new project that he also hopes will foster a sense of community: a U.K.-based mobile provider called The People's Operator (TPO), which has the goal of using "the power of mobile to make good things happen."

Wales has taken a "strategic stake" in the business (though no actual figures were revealed) and he has also been appointed as co-chair, alongside TPO co-founder Andrew Rosenfeld, on the company's board of directors, it was announced in a blog post on Monday. 

In his role as Co-Chair, Wales's will now be involved in all activities of the business, with his principal role being "to drive the growth of a global community that connects as a force for good."

“The TPO philosophy is to share its success with those who really need it. Donating to good causes through commercial success, and empowering the customer is an idea whose time has now come," Rosenfeld said in a statement.

"This is why I'm so excited that Jimmy, who used the power of communities to change the world, is taking the lead at TPO to do the same again.” 

Launched in 2012, TPO was launched with the idea that "mobile could be used to change lives for the better." What that means is that 10% of each customer’s bill is put directly into a cause chosen by the customer..

When a user signs up for TPO, they are given the opportunity to search for, and select from, the company's database of UK Charities and Causes. Users are also able to nominate causes not currently listed on the site. In addition, 25% of the Company’s profits go to the TPO Foundation, which then distributes them to other causes. 

TPO says that is "trademarked in key markets around the world" and that it intends to launch its business next in the United States. 

"With over 4 billion mobile phone subscribers forecast for 2016 worldwide, TPO has huge potential for viral growth and the more it grows, the more money will pass to the people and communities that need it," Wales said at DLD14 in Munich on Monday.

"Just as Wikipedia grew virally as communities wanted to work together to liberate knowledge, so I believe TPO will grow in a similar way as communities work together to support good causes across the globe.” 

(Image source: