I was away from my computer for 4 days last week, to participate to a
conference (LIFT) in Switzerland. During this conference, the organiser
asked me questions about the financial situation of the projects. I
answered with plain honesty and unfortunately with some words which
raised the attention of a blogger in the room.
Never mind that the words were taken out of context, never mind the
smiles that went with the words, the words were out. Twisted.
So, if some of you have heard that Wikipedia might close in 4 months due
to financial difficulties, these are the words I am talking about.
For more on the discussion on the matter, please see the blog of Mr
Guissani. I had a long discussion with him on financial matters on
I think that summarize things pretty well.
The day the WMF will plan to close Wikipedia for lack of funds, believe
me, you'll know. Before the press.
Will Wikipedia close in 4 months ? NO. NO. AND NO.
TRANSPARENCY AND FIGURES
All of our financial statements for year 2004, 2005 and 2006 are public
and audited. Please find them here:
We also have a page where we state our needs for the coming 6 months.
(as a reminder, our fiscal year goes from june to june)
TO make it short, we currently have above 1 million (exact figures to
pick up from Carolyn, perhaps 1,5) in bank, available for use.
Current monthly expenses as of today are about 75 000 dollars.
We had an (optimistic goal) of hardware investment of 1,6 million before
june. We can expect bandwidth and hosting costs to naturally follow. We
also need more human help, at least hiring a permanent executive
director, a CTO and probably more developers.
Just have a look at the page and do count yourself. If you add current
daily operations + hardware investment + increase in bandwidth +
increase in hosting + 3 to 5 additional employees, we are already over
that 1.5 millions that we have in hand.
So, as of today, I think we can quietly say that
"yes, we have about 3-4 months of operations at hand". Not 6 months. Not
1 year. Not 2 years. Roughly 3-4 months.
If you look at the bottom of this page,
you'll see that the recommandations of auditors is always to try to have
6 months of reserve. We are far from it. We have roughly 4 months.
Having 6 months of reserve is financially wiser.
Did you have a way to know this previously ?
Yes you did. It was listed in the site notice during the full month of
fundraising. So, there is nothing new to wikipedians. There might be
something new to press though.
IS THAT A BIG DEAL ?
I repeat, we are not going to disappear. We have been in worse state in
the past. Well, in december 2006, some expenses were delayed, delayed
till the money from the fundraising was flowing in, and we could pay the
Someone mentionned image server a few days ago. Image server was planned
in september hardware quote. But purchase was delayed till december.
Because given our cashflow situation, it would have been unreasonable to
buy the image servers.
This should not happen. We should not come to the point where we delay
hardware investment. We should aim to provide the best service, not just
the service we can afford.
We should not try to pretend we do not need money. We do need more
money. People at the Foundation are trying to find creative ways to
collect more, with services (datafeed), royalties from brand use
(Wikipedia in particular), matching donations etc... but raising the
money for the projects should not become only the business of 10 or so
employees. This should be many people concern. Because Wikipedia is not
the website of a few people, not even the website of the community, it
is a common good.