Today, the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, elected to step down from his post on the Apple board of directors. As Google was moving more and more into Apple's core lines of business, it became clear that Schmidt's interests and obligations to each company were becoming blurred.
As Apple chief Steve Jobs explained how it would have gone otherwise, "Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest."
It seems fairly obvious that one man cannot and should not try to both serve the fiduciary interests and protect the corporate missions of two different companies that compete against each other in the same marketplace. Akahele notes, however, that the founder of privately-held Wikia, Inc. also maintains a purportedly permanent seat on the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation board, even though Wikia and the Foundation share almost identically competitive missions.
Wikia: a community destination supporting the creation and development of wiki communities on any topic people are passionate about. Wikia supports many thousands of wiki communities in dozens of languages.
Wikimedia Foundation: an organizational framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects.
Jimmy Wales, will you do the right thing and step down from one or the other of these corporations?
2 Responses to “Conflicted boards”
- It was my impression that Wikia tries not to compete with Wikipedia: Wikia’s wiki creation policy says that “Wikia also does not duplicate Wikimedia projects, so if you are interested in general reference works we encourage you to join Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects in your language instead.” Is that really ‘competing’? Wikia’s narrow-focus, subculture communities actually seem to help keep Wikipedia clean of fancruft.
- I don’t really want to defend Wales on the whole Wikia/Wikimedia issue*, but I do think that he tries reasonably to keep either from harming or interfering with the other. He also doesn’t have a good choice anymore: if he steps down from Wikimedia, they lose him as the public face that has pulled in extra donations, and if he steps down from Wikia, he loses his day job. I don’t envy him this dilemma.
- *(I’d rather have seen some sort of wiki co-op, or even ad-supported wiki-communities to help fund Wikimedia, not to mention the conflict of interest issues)
- Gregory Kohs
- Wikia does not duplicate Wikimedia projects?
- Oh, really?
- I get a big kick out of you, Nihiltres, because you are sweet and adorable in how trusting you are of things related to Wikipedia and Jimmy Wales.
- By the way, as far as Wikia being Jimbo’s “day job”, he recently offered to waive his salary from Wikia, which wouldn’t surprise me in light of them having to lay off workers upon the closure of Wikia Search. He’s made most of his lifetime of income from speaker’s fees, anyway.
- Who needs a salary when you can jump on a trampoline in the office? That’s what success is all about. Right?