Home Business NewsBusiness Wikipedia’s founder just joined this UK business as co-chair – so what is it?

Wikipedia’s founder just joined this UK business as co-chair – so what is it?

21st Jan 14 11:23 am

As the creator of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales is undoubtedly one of the godfathers of the internet as we know it. So when he takes on a new role, it’s worth taking pretty serious note of the business he’s vesting his interests in.

As it happens, Wales has just joined a British business as co-chair: mobile network provider The People’s Operator (TPO).

You may or may not have heard of TPO. It’s not yet massive, but has generated a fair amount of buzz for its ethics: it donates 25% of profits to its own foundation, which funds a range of causes, and every user also selects a charity of their choice to donate 10% of their bill to.

TPO funds those donations by eradicating its marketing budget and relying on word of mouth to attract customers. “That’s something I know a lot about – how to grow an online community – so it’s a nice step from my background,” Wales told The Telegraph.

“This has the potential to give an enormous amount to causes, while at the same time being a workable business model,” he added.

TPO’s website says: “TPO is focused on meeting progressive goals and inspiring a new generation of businesses. We know the power of mobile to make good things happen. Now we want to take it to the next level.”

Wales is expecting TPO to grow fast. Although TPO itself isn’t publishing user forecasts and plans, Wales has cited the prediction that there are expected to be more than four billion phone subscribers globally by 2016.

It all signals the growth of social enterprise and the new dawn of responsible business.

And Wales is being frank about his desire to change the way business is done for the greater good, even though he concedes it’s not TPO’s “primary focus”: “One of the things we hope to do is talk to businesses about their CSR goals and how they might meet it through something they’re doing already at no additional cost.”

Wales has also said that he hopes some of TPO’s customers will use their donations to support Wikipedia. “It’s the kind of thing where any large public-facing cause like Wikipedia could end up getting very large amounts of support,” he said.

TPO claims to give users a “great deal” since it cuts back on marketing spend.

It offers SIM-only monthly contracts from £5 for 50 minutes, 50 texts and 50 MB of data, up to an astonishingly good deal for £14.99 a month that gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited data and unlimited texts (available until the end of February).

Let me know what you think @LondonlovesBiz and @sophiehobson


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