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3 learnings from Jimmy Wales building an Internet giant (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia is a an impressive (and highly underrated) pillar of the internet. 100 billion+ page views per year. Here are my takeaways from a Jimmy Wales’ interview:

1. Your product is an opportunity to build something amazing - not just your wealth.

“Unlike a lot of famous founders, Jimmy Wales is not on Forbes 400 but his legacy is likely to live on for centuries - a modern day Johannes Gutenberg." - Guy Raz

"He made it possible for every single person on earth to get access to the biggest collection of knowledge ever.”

2. Learn from tangential fields.

Early on, Wikipedia had a lot of trouble with inaccuracy/plagiarizing. He could have spent $$$ to hire moderators and fix this. But his solution? Just grow the community and let them find the inaccuracies. He learnt this from an open source software principal:

“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

Given enough readers, they'll find and fix the inaccuracies.

3. The strongest motivator is a powerful mission.

75,000+ people give hours of their time to improve Wikipedia for free. A lot of startup founders would love to have their users and employees to be that motivated. How does he do it?

“The mission - free encyclopedia for everyone in the world. If you play GTA, you don't go to bed thinking you did something meaningful. If you make one edit on Wikipedia, you go to bed knowing you contributed to the world. That it’s at least a little better than you found it.” - Jimmy Wales

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