An award-winner for his research and innovation, Jimmy Wales founded the world's sixth most-used website: Wikipedia.
Jimmy Wales was born in 1966 in Huntsville, Alabama, in a part of the state where testing for the US space programme caused the windows of his family home to rattle.
His mother was a teacher and his father the manager of a grocery shop, but perhaps one of his most influential family members was his uncle, who sold computers and gave his young nephew an early opportunity to experiment with technology.
Wales earned a BA in finance at Auburn University and an MA in the same subject at the University of Alabama. He began a career in finance before realising that his fascination with the internet could be more than a hobby.
In 2000, he founded the online encyclopaedia Nupedia for peer-reviewed articles, and its sister site Wikipedia, which was compiled by volunteers rather than appointed experts.
Wikipedia proved far more popular and is now the sixth most-used website in the world, with active editions in 282 languages.
In 2004 he founded Wikia, a free hosting service for collaborative projects, which has become the 15th most-used website in the world.
Wales recently became co-chairman of The People’s Operator, a mobile network that passes ten per cent of its revenues to charities chosen by its users.
Wales has been a co-chairman at summit of the World Economic Forum, and has won a UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal for outstanding research and the Nokia Foundation Award for innovation. He is a member the advisory board for the Center of Collective Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.
He holds honorary degrees from institutions in Europe including Maastricht University in the Netherlands and Università della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, and from American bodies including Knox College, Amherst College and Stevenson University.
In January 2016 he joined the board of the Guardian Media Group.