Thu 26th May 2011, 7:37pm
I found this Q and A more than a little telling:
You moved Wikimedia's headquarters from St. Petersburg, Florida, to San Francisco. How's that been so far?
When we moved, I had friends take us around and introduce us to lots of CEOs, venture capitalists, and hedge-fund managers — the whole Silicon Valley apparatus. I spent about three months visiting maybe 100 organizations, and I didn't come across a single woman who was not getting us coffee or answering the phone.
First, Sue's answer isn't really responsive--she was not asked about "CEOs, venture capitalists, and hedge-fund managers" or anyone else that she had been meeting with. Moreover, the fact she had been meeting with CEOs, venture capitalists, and hedge-fund managers at the time points to what was likely the real reason for the move to San Francisco: to be much closer to a major potential source of donor dollars. At the time, we here at WR
were mystified by what seemed to be a hasty and ill-considered decision. There may have been much method to their seeming madness after all.
Recall that at the time (fall 2007) Sue and most of the other WMF staff had acquired their positions just that year
. There were 9 staffers and 3 independent contractors then, but today that number has swelled to 65 staffers
. The move came nearly a year before the collapse in the financial markets; a time when hedge fund managers and other investors were making out like bandits and would have been keen on finding tax write-offs and tax shelters.
I don't recall any of this grandiose talk of a "Wikipedia Movement" from Jimbo, Sue or the Frei Kultur Kinder until well after the move. That doesn't mean it was not already being planned, however. We know from the WMF's own financials that the cost of meeting the hosting and technical requirements of all the Wikimedia sites is between $2 to $3 million US annually. The ever increasing bloat in both the budget and the staff is way in excess of what is needed to serve the Foundation's mission as a support organization. The bloat in the tech staff (from two staffers and two contractors to 27 staff) only represents 43% of the total staff increase.
I would not be surprised to learn that Jimbo's buddy Craig Newmark suggested the move to SF and may have even arranged some of the meetings Sue had.