[WikiEN-l] Foundation audit

Brion Vibber brion at wikimedia.org
Tue Feb 12 06:18:32 UTC 2008

gwern0 at gmail.com wrote:
> # As usual, relationships with Wikia are concerningly close and ambiguous:
>   "The Organization shares hosting and bandwidth costs with
>   Wikia, Inc., a for-profit company founded by the same
>   founder as Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Included in accounts
>   receivable at June 30, 2007 is $6,000 due from Wikia, Inc.
>   for these costs. The Organization received some donated
>   office space from Wikia Inc. during the year ended June 30,
>   2006 valued at $6,000. No donation of the office space
>   occurred in 2007.
>   Through June 30, 2007, two members of the Organization's
>   board of directors also serve as employees, officers, or
>   directors of Wikia, Inc."

> They share staff, WP favors Wikia in well-known ways, and so on - and
> people are surprised when the public perception is that WP is the
 > non-profit branch of Wikia, or vice versa? I'm also troubled by the
 > sharing of costs bit - why is Wikia using WMF resources (presumably
 > why they are paying WMF) and isn't it awfully convenient how the two
 > amounts cancel out? Small potatoes, but still.

Since the audit covers a period of time that's in the past, a few last 
vestiges of the Olden Days were still in effect during the audit period 
and are naturally covered.

Today, Wikia and Wikimedia don't share any data hosting.

We don't currently share any office space.

We don't currently share any employees.

So what is the current relationship?

* We do currently share one board member, Jimmy Wales.

* Wikia sometimes sponsors Wikimedia events or makes other donations to 

* Wikia uses our open-source software, and sometimes contributes back 
patches or plugins.

* Various people are involved in the communities of sites operated by 
both companies. (Eg, our target audiences overlap.)

And what was the past relationship? Here's a quick historical summary:


* Wikipedia is created as a side project that Jimmy Wales kindly 
operates on servers belonging to his company, Bomis.

* Wikipedia gets dedicated servers, kindly donated and hosted by 


* Jimmy moves from Southern California to Florida, taking both Bomis and 
Wikipedia with him.

* Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is founded to start taking over Wikipedia's 
resources so it can be operated independently as a not-for-profit.

* For convenience, Jimmy and Michael (pretty much the entire company at 
the time) share a tiny office in Saint Petersburg, and a hosting center 
in Tampa, between the two companies. The hosting costs of the two 
companies are accounted separately.

* WikiCities/Wikia is founded; Bomis "fades away".

[audit period starts here]


* Wikia gets private funding, moves offices and most of their hosting 
from Florida to Northern California.

* The Florida hosting account and office space are taken over fully by 
Wikimedia. (That's the one-time donation of office space you see in the 

* A whopping 3 Wikia servers remain in Florida; Wikia pays Wikimedia 
monthly rent to cover hosting of those servers. (That's the shared 
hosting costs you see above in the audit.)

* Wikimedia expands its own staff to better handle its growing 
requirements: tech staff, finance, fundraising, legal, office staff, 
public relations.

[audit period ends here]


* The last remaining non-Jimmy, Wikia-related Wikimedia board member 
resigns. (That's the end of 50% of the board overlap you see above in 
the audit.)

* Wikimedia moves offices to elsewhere in Northern California (*not* 
sharing office space with Wikia, which is miles away in a different city).

* The last three Wikia servers in Florida are shut off. (That's the end 
of the shared hosting costs you see above in the audit.)

(There may be minor details off, this is from memory.)

-- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)

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