Jimmy Wales, co-founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is expanding his business. Wales has raised $4 million in venture funding for his Wikicities for-profit undertaking.
That company, renamed Wikia, helps build community-based wikis, and raises money through advertising. Financing for the new venture round came from Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and angel investors, including Marc Andreessen, Dan Gillmor, Reid Hoffman, and Mitch Kapor.
Wikia also announced that Jeremy Levine of Bessemer and Ito, a Technorati exec, are joining its board.
Blog community response:
"Wikia could also be a good vehicle for Wales to back away from Wikipedia - a move that could defuse criticism that he's too much of a micro-manager for the open-source, volunteer-based encyclopedia."
"Current traffic for Wikia is fairly non-existent, although Jimmy Wale's wikipedia is one of the most highly trafficked sites on the web and I'm sure that the investors are assuming that he'll be able to drive a similar level of user loyalty. Fighting against that will be the less-compelling subject matter and the fact that this is a for-profit company."
"I said that the key to local seemed to be a Wikipedia for local search. This morning, I wake up and lo and behold, I see this press release announcing Bessemer's investment in Wikia, formerly known as Wikicities."
--Clickety Clack: Online Ad Blog