November 30, 2012

Wikia Raises Deka-Million More For Digital Sharecropping

Wikia, the for-profit start-up described in a Trader Daily article as one Wikipedia co-founder's "effort to take the success -- and, indeed, the underlying philosophy -- of Wikipedia, and commercialize the hell out of it.", has now raised over $10 million in more venture capital funding. I've written about Wikia a while back, e.g. in a column "How will Wikia cope when the workers all quit the plantation?". There's many issues surrounding the company - its ties to Wikipedia (it's a legally separate organization, but there's a been a long history of various connections), the reaction many contributors feel to being used for digital sharecropping, whether its model is even profitable or if so how much, etc. None of this seems to be discussed much, sadly.

Some time ago, I tried to figure out a rough estimate of Wikia's valuation, based on various pieces of public data. Unfortunately I was never able to come up with anything that I wanted to publish (that might have been a mistake in bogospheric terms, where one saying is "the editing occurs after publication"). I wish someone who was more skilled than I am at making ballpark corporate valuation estimates would try it. For all the advantages Wikia has, most notably a "halo effect" from the immense success of Wikipedia, it never struck me as a doing especially well. Obviously it hasn't gone out of business. But it seems sort of like an idiot cousin of a megastar. Enough comes its way indirectly from the big earner that it does OK. But that minor success is far more due to the "family connection", than any innate talent or ability.

I believe the crucial factor is that Google hasn't blessed Wikia in the way it has blessed Wikipedia. That is, Wikia pages do not dominate search results like Wikipedia pages do. That hasn't been for lack of trying on Wikia's part. But the almighty Google, gatekeeper of attention to web sites, has not changed "partners".

Perhaps related, one often hears during Wikipedia fundraising the idea that Wikipedia is trustworthy because it doesn't have advertising. If the speaker is also associated with Wikia, I wish a reporter would ask if that means the "commercialize the hell out of it" company Wikia is therefore untrustworthy.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia | on November 30, 2012 11:59 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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