Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama, where he attended Randolph School, a university-preparatory school, then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance. While in graduate school, he taught at two universities, but left before completing a Ph.D. in order to take a job in finance and later worked as the research director of a Chicago futures and options firm.
In 2001 Wales launched Wikipedia, a free, open content encyclopedia that enjoyed rapid growth and popularity, and as Wikipedia’s public profile grew, he became the project’s promoter and spokesman. Wales serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit charitable organization he helped establish to operate Wikipedia, holding its board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004, he co-founded a for-profit Wikia, Inc., which is legally separate from the Wikimedia Foundation, but closely tied through past governance (for years, three out of five Wikimedia Foundation board members were key employees of Wikia), as well as thousands of outbound links from Wikipedia to Wikia.com that generate traffic and revenues for Wikia. 
Wales also appointed a Wikia employee to the Wikipedia "Arbitration Committee", which is the highest body of policy control on Wikipedia, short of the Wikimedia Foundation board and staff. This Wikia employee was soon discovered to have falsified his credentials to the Wikipedia community, and he was driven off the Arbitration Committee, and he elected to retire his Wikipedia account. Wales also terminated his employ with Wikia. 
His role in co-founding Wikipedia, which has become the world’s largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of the world’s most influential people.
Resources and articles
Related Sourcewatch articles
- Wikipedia: 50 languages, 1/2 million articles. Wikimedia Foundation Press Release. Wikimedia Foundation (2004-04-25). Retrieved on 2009-04-10.
- "Brain scan: The free-knowledge fundamentalist", Technology Quarterly, The Economist (2008-06-05). Retrieved on 2008-06-09.
- Directors, Sunlight Foundation, accessed July 21, 2008.
- Edge About, organizational web page, accessed June 8, 2013.
- "Biography', Accessed January 2007.