Wikimedia announces plans to move office to San Francisco

Given concerns about the long-term suitability of its Florida headquarters, the Wikimedia Foundation has announced that it will be relocating to the San Francisco area to be closer to "the centre of high-tech in the United States."

The plan was announced Saturday by special advisor Sue Gardner, who indicated that San Francisco was selected from a list of five cities. Major considerations included proximity to like-minded organizations and potential partners, as well as cheaper and more convenient international travel than available from St. Petersburg, Florida.

Competing options

The other cities considered were Boston, London, New York, and Washington, D.C. Recently hired as a consultant to direct Wikimedia's transition into a more mature organization, Gardner said she recommended San Francisco "after a fairly detailed analysis" and the Board of Trustees accepted the recommendation. The possibility of remaining in St. Petersburg was also examined, but already people have suggested at several points previously that it was not ideal for an internationally-focused organization. As Gardner noted, the existing location is largely a historical accident, based on the fact that Jimmy Wales was living in Florida when Wikimedia was first incorporated as a nonprofit.

Of the other candidates, London attracted the most comment in response to the announcement, as the only location outside of the United States, and given occasional concerns about whether Wikimedia is too US-centric. Although a London headquarters might more visibly demonstrate the international character of the organization, several UK natives responded that they agreed with its exclusion, primarily because of the country's plaintiff-friendly libel laws. Placating concerns about the move affecting project policies under the existing legal regime, general counsel Mike Godwin pointed out that defamation law is largely uniform across US states and the most relevant immunity is based on federal law.

Details of the move

Gardner also solicited advice about shopping for office space in the San Francisco Bay area. One possibility mentioned, that of sharing with Wales's Wikia company in San Mateo, was quickly dismissed by board chair Florence Devouard. She elaborated that keeping the public from confusing the two is already challenging enough without that level of overlap, and financial relationships other than outright donations create potential conflicts of interest. Advisory board chair and Wikia co-founder Angela Beesley agreed, pointing out that Wikia doesn't really have extra space available anyway.

The transition to new headquarters is expected to take place this winter, with a new office opening later this year and the St. Petersburg one closing early in 2008. Some degree of expense will be involved in the relocation, and overhead costs will be higher in California, but Devouard explained that as Wikimedia adds staff, a new location is necessary to attract people with the needed skills. The main cluster of Wikimedia servers will remain in Tampa, Florida, however, and the Foundation is not currently considering moving those.

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YES!!!!!! That's all I have to say. --wL<speak·check> 04:55, 26 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I'm psyched, too, but really it's a toss-up between floods and quakes. I suppose even the Midwest has it's tornadoes. ←BenB4 17:34, 26 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]


I live in SF! Marlith T/C 03:51, 27 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]


Will this cause problems for editors while they move? IE, server shutdowns or slow connections? Spawn Man 04:44, 27 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

No. We are not moving the pmtpa server cluster, as stated in the last paragraph. --ST47Talk·Desk 10:32, 27 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]


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