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The Silicon Valley power couple — Wojicki is the co-founder of personal genetics company 23andMe — made the donation in the name of their own Brin Wojcicki Foundation, as the Wikimedia Foundation kicked off its eighth annual round of fundraising.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is the public face of the campaign, his likeness splashed across the top of every Wikipedia page, appealing for donations.
“This grant is an important endorsement of the Wikimedia Foundation and its work, and I hope it will send a signal as we kick off our annual fundraising campaign this week,” said Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “This is how Wikipedia works: people use it, they like it, and so they help pay for it, to keep it freely available for themselves and for everyone around the world. I am very grateful to Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki for supporting what we do.”
Aside from Wikipedia, Wikimedia runs a number of other sites, funded primarily through charitable donations and grants.
The majority of the 477-million unique visitors it receives every month do, however, go to Wikipedia, making it the fifth most visited site on the web.
In his appeal, Wales compares the scope of Wikipedia’s resources to those of other internet giants.
“Google might have close to a million servers. Yahoo has something like 13 000 staff. We have 679 servers and 95 staff,” he says.
He also defended the decision to keep advertising off Wikipedia’s pages:
Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.
When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something different. We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.
The Brin Wojcicki Foundation has previously funded organisations like the Michael J Fox foundation, which is looking to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.
Google, the company Brin founded along with Larry Page, donated US$2-million the Wikimedia Foundation in 2010.
According to the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia currently “contains more than 20 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of more than 100 000 people”.