Jimmy Wales targets “viral growth” and US expansion in his role as co-chair
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been appointed co-chair of The People’s Operator (TPO), the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that donates part of its profits to charity, and says it has plans to expand its model to the US and other major markets around the world.
Launched in November 2012 and operating on the EE network, TPO allows customers to nominate a charity to receive ten percent of their bill, while the company itself donates a quarter of its profits to good causes through the TPO Foundation.
TPO is based in London’s Tech City and says it is able to offer competitive SIM-only tariffs because it doesn’t market heavily, is based online, and saves on a number of central corporate costs. It requires word of mouth recommendations to grow its business.
The People’s Operator
Wales has taken what is being described as a “strategic stake” in the business and in his position as co-chair, and will be involved in all activities of the company with a remit to drive growth. He says he sees similarities with Wikipedia and believes there is an opportunity for “viral growth.”
“With over 4 billion mobile phone subscribers forecast for 2016 worldwide, TPO has huge potential for viral growth and the more it grows, the more money will pass to the people and communities that need it,” he says. “Only a small percentage in global take up will make a massive difference to people’s lives.
“Just as Wikipedia grew virally as communities wanted to work together to liberate knowledge, so I believe TPO will grow in a similar way as communities work together to support good causes across the globe.”
TPO is a for-profit organisation, but co-founder Mark Epstein told TechWeekEurope in an interview in 2012 that this did not conflict with its charitable aims as the more profit it made, the more it is able to donate to good causes.
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