Wikipedia founder’s mobile start-up to list on stock exchange » SMEInsider

Wikipedia founder’s mobile start-up to list on stock exchange

Jimmy Wales, founder of the hugely successful open-source encyclopaedia site Wikipedia, is taking the next steps for his latest and very different venture: The People’s Operator (TPO), a low cost mobile phone network that donates 10% of the monthly fee to the user’s charity of choice.

After two years of funding, TPO is now ready to list on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Despite being very competitively priced, it also intends to offer an ethically-minded alternative to leading mobile phone companies, with both a 10% charity donation built into the monthly fee (at no cost to the user) and 25% of UK trading profits to be donated to the TPO Foundation.

Wales believes that the additional funding and public profile involved in his chosen IPO route will help support the company’s growth. He will also make use of an international online community to bring together TPO subscribers and community organisations.

10,000 people have already signed up to the service, with nearly half of these joining since June. In the UK, the network uses EE for 3G coverage and the company has also made traction in creating partnerships in the US.

“We are pleased to have recently signed an operating agreement with Sprint, one of the largest network operators in the United States,” said Wales. “This gives TPO a platform from which to start creating global online communities and an important first mover advantage in a large market that offers significant potential to accelerate the growth of our business.

The US arm of the TPO Foundation will be launched next year, but the company is expected to be listed on AIM from November. Wales has not yet announced how much funding the company plans to raise via the IPO.

 

 

  • Investors would be advised to research the success rate of Wales’ other start-up ventures, such as: Openserving.com (shut down), Wikia Search (shut down, after much fanfare), CiviliNation.org (barely surviving — $20K budget), Impossible.com (ever declining Alexa ratings). Even his “success” stories are not really — Wikipedia is wildly successful, but it wasn’t Wales’ creation, it was Larry Sanger’s. And Wikia.com has been in operation for 10 years, but they still need to beg for investment funds, rather than rely on their own profits to fund capital expenses.