Wikipedia founder to give away Web hosting

Wikia plans to offer a free online application hosting service in the near future, on Openserving.com

Wikia plans to offer a free online application hosting service in the near future, but has no idea how it will make money from it.

The company will launch openserving.com with one hosted application, an open-source content-management platform that it acquired when it bought sports fan-site ArmchairGM last week.

Set up by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in 2004, Wikia's goal is to encourage the sharing of information. It hosts Web sites for free, using wiki software to allow its customers and their readers to freely edit the sites. Wikia asks its customers to share their content under a variety of Creative Commons or GNU licenses.

"Open source was the beginning. Free culture is what's happening next," Wikia Chief Executive Officer Gil Penchina said Monday, announcing the company's plans at a conference in Paris on the future of social media, Le Web 3.

Openserving.com will go further than Wikia's current services, by giving away hosting services and bandwidth, in addition to allowing site creators to keep the advertising revenue generated by the site.

"If we give away the bandwidth and the storage, and we get none of the advertising revenue, what's the business model? Well, I don't know yet," Penchina said.

The software acquired with ArmchairGM will allow Openserving.com customers to create collaborative publishing sites, combining elements of blogs and wikis.

Penchina called for volunteers to help install and maintain other open-source applications on the site.

Wikia received a total of US$4 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and individual investors including Marc Andreessen and Mitch Kapor earlier this year, and last week received a second round of investment from Amazon.com Inc. The companies did not disclose the amount of Amazon's investment.

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