Ordinarily, this would be good news: Vinod Khosla, the former Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist, and his wife Neeru Khosla, have donated $500,000 to Wikipedia's nonprofit parent, the Wikimedia Foundation. But founder Jimmy Wales's dalliances with other VCs — chiefly Roger McNamee and Marc Bodnick of Elevation Partners — have cast a shadow over every dollar the organization receives. Is this one of the $500,000 donations McNamee recently said he helped broker? And if so, what do he and Khosla expect to get in return? For starters, keep a close eye on Wikipedia's articles on ethanol, a major business interest of Khosla's. Wales, ordinarily Wikipedia's front man, makes no appearance in the press release, quoted below:
*Wikimedia Foundation Receives $500K Donation*
''Vinod and Neeru Khosla, innovators in educational outreach, provide financial support to the Wikimedia Foundation.''
San Francisco, CA - March 24, 2008 - The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia, is delighted to announce it has received a $500,000 donation from philanthropists Vinod and Neeru Khosla.
"We are thrilled and very grateful," said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "Vinod and Neeru share the Wikimedia Foundation's vision: a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. Today, they have moved us closer to making that vision a reality."
"Vinod and I are proud to help Wikipedia, a valuable global educational resource," said Neeru Khosla, co-founder and chair of CK12, a non-profit organization supporting the worldwide creation of "flexbooks," collaborative, open-source textbooks. "Wikipedia proves that mass collaboration works, and that small investments can reap extraordinary returns. We are happy to be a part of it."
The gift comes at a critical time in the history of Wikimedia, which has just relocated to San Francisco to be closer to Bay Area technical talent, like-minded non-profit organizations, and educational and research institutions.
"Moving to San Francisco was an essential step in the maturing of the organization," said Gardner. "Now that we are here, and have built a great team of smart people, we're well-positioned to make significant progress."
Wikipedia, the world's largest encyclopedia and one of the 10 most popular websites world-wide, is written, edited and maintained entirely by a global community of thousands of volunteers. It was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales. The Wikimedia Foundation, founded in 2003, has a staff of 15, and provides organizational support for Wikipedia and eight other collaboratively-created information projects.
In coming years, the Wikimedia Foundation plans to launch outreach projects designed to encourage contributions to Wikipedia from targeted groups such as academics, speakers of small languages, people in developing nations and older people. It also plans to increase the distribution of material from Wikipedia and its other projects in non-web-based formats such as DVDs and books, to provide information for people who are not online.