Jimmy Wales, the internet entrepreneur who is famous for cofounding the not-for-profit Wikipedia and the for-profit Wikia, has been quite outspoken over the years on the topic of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
As early as 2014, Wales tweeted that he was “playing with BTC,” and later that year Wikipedia and the rest of the Wikimedia Foundation began accepting Bitcoin as a method of donation, helping drive usage of the digital currency.
However, Wales hasn’t always been complimentary about the cryptocurrency marketplace.
As recently as October 2017, Wales told CNBC “I think blockchain is a super interesting technology, but there are a lot of fads going on right now. There are a lot of these initial coin offerings, which in my opinion are absolute scams, and people should be very wary of things that are going on in that area.”
Whether warning against ICOs or accepting donations in Bitcoin, Wales remains one of the most influential characters in blockchain, a fact that has been recognized by BlockShow, which has invited him to speak at its flagship event in Berlin on May 28 and 29.
So where does Wales stand now on cryptocurrencies? Ahead of his appearance at BlockShow Europe 2018 in Berlin, I had the opportunity to ask him whether his perspective on ICOs has softened.
“My attitude has not changed at all,” Wales told me. “Almost every ICO is offering nothing of value to the world. That doesn’t mean that the concept of an ICO is inherently bad — just that we are in a bubble where people are doing a lot of things that don’t make any rational sense outside of the bubble mentality. We’ve lived through this before during the dot-com bubble.”
It is worth pointing out that Wales is taking about ICOs here, not Bitcoin. The Wikimedia Foundation’s acceptance of BTC for donations doesn’t contradict his position, and with so many recently documented scams and collapses, his reticence could be well placed.
So is Wales tempted to redress the balance personally by launching his own blockchain project right now?
“No, not now, but I do keep a close eye on things and am looking for good ideas,” Wales said.
Wales will share his views on blockchain, cryptocurrencies, ICOs, and how Wikipedia and Wikia use cryptocurrency technologies at the upcoming BlockShow event, which has grown quickly to become the largest blockchain technology roadshow in Europe.