Case Detail

Case Summary

Triumph of the Commons: Wikia and the Commercialization of Open-Source Communities in 2009

Case Number: 5-309-509, Year Published: 2009

HBS Number: KEL464

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Authors: Shane Greenstein; Rebecca Frazzano; Evan Meagher

Key Concepts

Wiki, Wikipedia, Wikia, Open Source, Collaborative Communities, Entrepreneurship, Web 2.0, Software, Internet, Social Networks

Abstract

In 2009 Wikia was the Internet’s largest for-profit provider of hosted open-source wikis, with over a million daily users. After five years of existence, the organization had supported a wide range of exploratory activities, experiencing both success and failure. With approximately $3 million of cash on hand, Wikia turned cash flow positive in 2009, with revenues of approximately $4.5 million, affording it time and flexibility to try new things. Some of the company’s employees and investors suggested that Wikia should attempt to expand and market itself more aggressively, but which strategic direction should receive priority? The case presents many of the issues and tradeoffs facing CEO Gil Penchina as he formulates these priorities.

Learning Objectives

The case seeks to teach students about the general business challenges facing a new firm in the area of Web 2.0, also popularly known as social networking. The case also exposes students to wiki technology and how it facilitates collaborative behavior.

Number of Pages: 24

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Entrepreneurship, Management, Strategy, Technology

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States

Industry: Internet Software, Social Networks, Web 2.0

Organization Name: Wikia.com

Organization Size: Small

Decision Maker Position: CEO

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2009