January 15, 2009

Roger McNamee (Venture Capitalist) on Wikimedia Advisory Board - THE MONEY

When I wrote Roger McNamee, "Elevation Partners", and Don't Think Small on Wikipedia, I said:

It's not about the minor Google-juice that the commercial digital-sharecropping startup company "Wikia Inc." gets from the nonprofit mothership Wikipedia (and that trick doesn't even seem to work anyway). ... It's not about trying to put a $1,300 dinner on a charity's expense account. It's not even about pocketing fat speaking fees, though that must be a nice perk.

Looks at millions of dollars, if you can wrap your mind around that. Anybody who is rainmaking a literal million dollars of donations has an angle where they're going to get comparable value back.

With the announcement of Roger McNamee appointed to Wikimedia Advisory Board, I re-iterate that point. I severely doubt that the idea is to convert Wikipedia itself to some sort of profit center. That's too risky.

Instead, just speculating, I suspect what's going on here is a continuation of the strategy of digital sharecropping. Note this item in a profile

One such acquisition was Investopedia, the leading online portal for investment-related research, which Forbes bought in April 2007. Another was Clipmarks, a small company that lets users tag, store, organize, and share snippets of webpages, acquired in November 2007

Having insidery access to various deals and start-ups is likely the benefit, not direct commercialization of Wikipedia itself.

[Update : Hmm... "Roger McNamee will act as a special advisor to the Executive Director on business and strategy issues." ]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on January 15, 2009 03:04 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Unpopular Practices

In any community, there will be popular practices and unpopular ones.

Rarely are the best practices one and the same as the most popular practices.

There is a process for developing and establishing organizational best practices. Among all the proponents of the idea of Ethical Best Practices, none are more distinguished or more prominent in the field than Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline: The Theory and Practice of the Learning Organization.

While Senge's works are not unpopular among successful learning organizations, his ideas appear to be singularly unpopular among the core cabal of dysfunctional organizations like Wikipedia. The ruling cabal of the Wikimedia Foundation appears to be allergic to Senge's ideas, and unhappy with anyone who has the temerity to introduce his recommended Best Ethical Practices into the Wikisphere.

Seth, do you reckon that a venture capitalist of McNamee's stature might succeed in injecting Senge's notion of Ethical Best Practices into Jimbo's barren mindscape?

Posted by: Barry Kort at January 16, 2009 07:26 AM

I am far more a Wikipedia fan than you Seth, but there is little doubt that deep in the hearts of the originators of Wikipedia lies a frustration that they haven't yet made out like bandits, as YouTube's Chad and Steve have.

The Spanish Fork was a key moment in the success of Wikipedia, but I suspect that the goal of RM and other VCs is to find a way around that roadblock. I'm glad you are keeping an eye on them. Someone has to.

Posted by: tom s. at January 17, 2009 09:56 AM

I would have to differ. I am not a spoken fan of wiki. Although I do not discredit the original efforts of those deep within wiki, there comes a point when efforts are easily diluted with nothing more than greed.

"the reality is the exploitation of digital sharecropping." - could not have been said any better.

Posted by: stephen at January 19, 2009 08:16 PM

Blogger Re: "Moult No Lava"

"Blog not found"

"Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. However, the name moultnolava is available to register!"

Posted by: Jon Awbrey at January 21, 2009 08:06 AM