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Jimmy Wales joins The People’s Operator

Jimmy Wales, has been appointed to the board of The People's Operator and has taken a strategic stake in the business

Co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales has joined UK upstart and “ethical MVNO” The People’s Operator (TPO) as co-chair and board member. Wales has also acquired a strategic stake in the MVNO.

The People’s Operator was launched in November 2012 and runs on UK operator EE’s 3G network. It is a for-profit business but supports UK charities by allocating 25 per cent of its profit to charities, such as the NSPCC, Childline, Dimbleby Cancer Care and The Childrens Heart FederationAlex Franks, former TPO CEO, told Telecoms.com in March last year. These charities are chosen through the TPO Foundation but in addition it allocates ten per cent of subscribers’ monthly spend on charities of the subscriber’s choice.

In his role, Wales will be involved in all activities of the business but his main task will be to drive its growth globally. The company next intends to launch in the US.

“TPO puts customers and the causes they care about first,” said Wales. “With over four 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 added that even a small percentage in global take up will make a huge difference to people’s lives.

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“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.”

Andrew Rosenfeld, founder and co-chair of TPO, added that Wales used the “power of communities to change the world, is taking the lead at TPO to do the same again”. Current CEO Mark Epstein added: “With Jimmy leading our expansion we’re now looking to roll out in others markets just as soon as we can.”

TPO also plans to roll out a corporate service, Franks said in March. He said the MVNO will be speaking to existing partners and other business about the advantages of switching to TPO.

“If a charity partner switches their corporate account to TPO we can be directed to pass ten per cent of their employee mobile spend back to that charity. Equally, businesses can support their charity partners and fulfill CSR commitments by switching to TPO and directing us to give the ten per cent to the charity partner of their choice.”

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