The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit which operates Wikipedia, says its mission is to give the world free access to the sum of all human knowledge. Behind the scenes, it's responsible for the mother of all power struggles. Jimmy Wales is supposedly a figurehead — just one of many board members. Sue Gardner, the executive director, supposedly runs Wikipedia day to day — though deputy director Erik Moeller, a former board member who has long schemed to take control of Wikipedia, actually runs the site's technology and content. Florence Nibart-Devouard, a French local official, replaced Wales as the nonprofit's chair in October 2006, and thinks she's in charge. Ah, but not according to Wikimedia's legal filings.
A Florida business registration for the nonprofit filed last May shows Wales's title did change — but to "EC," short for "executive chairman," a worker in Florida's Department of State confirms. On paper, Wales still outranks Devouard. Could he have told her that "EC" stands for "emeritus chair," while secretly keeping legal authority over Wikipedia to himself? That would explain why Wales feels entitled to bypass Devoard and cut deals with venture capitalists on the side.
The legal filing: