As the head of the for-profit arm of the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which manages the free global online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Lane Becker often jokes that he’s the organization’s “token capitalist.” His team runs Wikimedia Enterprise, a SaaS platform product that provides companies with fast, reliable access to the content from Wikipedia and its sister web projects for use in their own sites and services, with customers ranging from small startups all the way up to Google.
One of the biggest challenges for the Wikimedia Enterprise team is staying on the right side of the Foundation’s deeply held purpose of providing free knowledge to the world, while also working to turn a meaningful profit to sustain that mission. Or to put it another way, figuring out how to make money off of the sale of data inside an organization deeply committed to giving that same data away for free can be… challenging.
In this talk, Lane will cover the full range of issues he has faced building a sustainable start-up business inside a mature organization, including developing a set of values for your new business that aligns with and amplify existing organizational values; designing a business model to align with these values; dealing with the challenge of selling to businesses whose values aren’t entirely in step with yours; and aligning with critical community voices in order to ensure that the business delivers for the people you’re ultimately there to serve.
Lane Becker is the President of Wikimedia LLC, a subsidiary of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that stewards the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and its sister projects. Wikimedia LLC runs Wikimedia Enterprise, which provides commercial data services to organizations that need to repurpose Wikimedia content in other contexts. He is also a Research Associate with the Governance Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future, the world’s leading strategic futures organization. Previously, Lane worked with the US government’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS) as a digital strategist for 18F, an internal consultancy bringing modern digital practices into government, and as Senior Advisor to the Office of Products and Platforms (OPP), which develops new products and services for government-wide use. While at OPP, Lane started and ran 10x, an investment fund that develops ideas sourced from civil servants into technology products and services that benefit the American public. Previous to TTS, Lane worked with the non-profit Code for America, as their Director of Product and Startups, leading both their product development and startup accelerator programs. In 2001, Lane co-founded Adaptive Path, a pioneering research and design firm in the then-nascent field of user experience, which was purchased by Capital One in 2015 to serve as their in-house innovation lab. Lane also co-founded Measure Map, an online blog analytics tool purchased by Google in 2006 that became the front-end of Google Analytics, and Get Satisfaction, an early customer service community platform, acquired by the social media firm Sprinklr in 2014. He continues to invest in and advise technology startups.
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