Industries in Depth

To succeed - 'get comfortable with failure'. Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales on this week's Radio Davos

Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia.org, USA speaking during the Session "Fake News versus Real Politics" at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 24, 2018.Copyright by World Economic Forum / Jakob Polacsek

Jimmy Wales in Davos, 2018 Image: World Economic Forum / Jakob Polacsek

Robin Pomeroy
Podcast Editor, World Economic Forum Geneva
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  • Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia, the world's 5th most popular website.
  • On Radio Davos, he shares advice with would-be entrepreneurs.
  • 'Don't be afraid to fail' and don't censor your own ideas, he says.

Every month, more than 6 billion people visit Wikipedia, making it the fifth most used website in the world.

But how did it come about? On this week's Radio Davos, we hear from Jimmy Wales, the site’s co-founder as he reminisces about creating Wikipedia and shares wisdom with young entrepreneurs from the World Economic Forum's UpLink platform.

Have you read?

Some key quotes:

Learning to fail

"You need to get comfortable with failure - that you're going to try some things that aren't going to work. And if you can, then that's great, because then you can learn, you can grow, you can take risks in a way that's very hard if you're not good at failing. [...]

"Another thing I say to young entrepreneurs: just do anything you want. Your biggest problem is nobody cares what you're doing at all, so if you fail nobody's going to notice. So just don't don't panic about it."

Necessity: the mother of invention

"If somebody had said to me: 'Oh, here Jimmy, here's $10 million investment,' I would have probably done what everybody else did, which is hire moderators and start doing top-down community management, because who could imagine doing it any other way? [...] In our case, we didn't have any money - like zero money - to hire anybody, so it was: 'OK, how do we figure out how to do this, how do we devolve power to the community in a way that works?'"

My day

"I would make a terrible employee. I always just get up every day and I just do whatever I think is interesting. I managed in my life to carve out for myself that kind of freedom."

Wikipedia, fifth in the 50 Most Visited Websites In the World
Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world Image: Visual Capitalist

Mentioned in this podcast:

GPT-3 - Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 - uses deep learning to produce human-like text. See the New York Times and Guardian articles for more.

WT.Social - Jimmy Wales' social network site.

Listen to the previous Radio Davos about UpLink:

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