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Bomis, Inc.
Bomis oval.svg
Bomis founders in 2006.jpg
Bomis founders in 2006
Tim Shell, Jimmy Wales, and Michael E. Davis
Type of business Private company
Type of site
Internet portal
Advertising space
Available in English
Founded 1996
Dissolved 2007
Headquarters ,
United States
Founder(s) Jimmy Wales
Tim Shell
Michael Davis
CEO Tim Shell
Industry Dot-com
Products Bomis Premium
Bomis Babes
Bomis Babe Report
The Babe Engine
Bomis Browser
Employees 10
Subsidiaries Nupedia (2000–2003)
Wikipedia (2001–2003)
Website, archived at the Internet Archive
Advertising Yes
Registration No
Launched 1996

Bomis was a Internet company created in 1996 by Jimmy Wales. Bomis is best known for supporting the creation of free-content online-encyclopedia projects Nupedia and Wikipedia.

Bomis staff in 2000



Jimmy Wales left a study track at Indiana University as a PhD candidate to work in finance before completing his doctoral dissertation. In 1994 Wales was hired by Michael Davis, CEO of finance company Chicago Options Associates, as a trader focusing on futures contracts and options. Wales was adept at determining future movements of foreign currencies and interest rates; he was successful in Chicago, became independently wealthy, and was director of research at Chicago Options Associates from 1994 to 2000. He became acquainted with Tim Shell from email lists discussing philosophy.

Wales wanted to participate in the online-based entrepreneurial ventures which were increasingly popular and successful during the mid-1990s. His experience (from gaming in his youth) impressed on him the importance of networking. Wales was interested in computer science, experimenting with source code on the Internet and improving his skill at computer programming. In his spare time after work at Chicago Options Associates, Wales constructed his own web browser. While at the firm, he noted the successful 1995 initial public offering of Netscape Communications.


Wales co-founded Bomis in 1996, with business associates Tim Shell, and his then-manager Michael Davis, as a for-profit corporation with joint ownership. Wales was its chief manager. In 1998 he moved from Chicago to San Diego to work for Bomis, and then to St. Petersburg, Florida (where the company subsequently relocated).

The staff at Bomis was originally about five employees. Its 2000 staff included programmer Toan Vo, Andrew McCague and system administrator Jason Richey; Wales employed his high-school friend and best man in his second wedding, Terry Foote, as advertising director. In June 2000, Bomis was one of five network partners of Ask Jeeves. The majority of the revenue that came in to Bomis was generated through advertising. The most successful time for Bomis was during its venture as a member of the NBC web portal NBCi; this collapsed at the end of the dot-com bubble.

Although Bomis is not an acronym, the name stemmed from "Bitter Old Men in Suits" (as Wales and Shell called themselves in Chicago). The site began as a web portal, trying a number of ideas (including serving as an access point for information about Chicago). It later focused on male-oriented content, including information on sporting activities and automobiles.

Nupedia and Wikipedia

Bomis created Nupedia as a free online encyclopedia (with content submitted by experts) but it had a tedious, slow review process. Wikipedia was initially launched by Bomis to provide content for Nupedia, and was a for-profit venture (a Bomis subsidiary) through the end of 2002. As the costs of Wikipedia rose with its popularity, Bomis' revenues declined; these losses were compounded by the dot-com crash. Since Wikipedia was a drain on Bomis' resources, Wales and philosophy graduate student Larry Sanger decided to fund the project as a nonprofit. Sanger was laid off from Bomis in 2002. Nupedia content was merged into Wikipedia, and it ceased in 2003.

The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation began in 2003 with a board of trustees composed of Bomis' three founders (Wales, Davis, and Shell) and was first headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, Bomis' location.

In 2005, Tim Shell was CEO of Bomis and one of the board members overseeing Wikipedia. Shell remained CEO of Bomis in 2006, becoming vice-president of the Wikimedia Foundation and continuing to serve on its board. Bomis co-founder Michael Davis became treasurer of the Wikimedia Foundation that year. Wales told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007 that although he retained partial ownership of Bomis, "It's pretty much dead."

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bomis para niños

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