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Wikimedia taps mystery sugardaddy for advisory board

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The Wikimedia Foundation has named its conspicuously controversial sugardaddy to its board of advisors.

This morning, the non-for-profit behind Wikipedia announced the appointment of Roger McNamee, the man who runs Elevation Partners, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm whose partners include U2 frontman Bono.

According to former Wikimedia employees, McNamee's Elevation Partners has long expressed an interest in turning the free online encyclopedia into a moneymaker, and former Wikimedia executive Danny Wool has told the Reg that McNamee personally donated roughly $350,000 in Google stock to the Foundation in 2006 and 2007.

When we published our initial story on the Elevation Wikisoapopera, the Foundation would neither confirm nor deny these donations. But the not-for-profit has said that NcNamee "lined up" a $500,000 donation in December 2007 and another $500,000 donation in March 2008.

At the time, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales told The New York Times that NcNamee was "a bit of a mentor in doing fundraising." And McNamee said his work with the Wikimedia Foundation was not related to Elevation Partners.

Nonetheless, over a two-year span, McNamee donated or "lined up" donations totaling more than $1.35m to the charitable organization. And though McNamee has denied it, several Wikimedia employees, including Wool, say that Elevation met with Wikimedia officials multiple times in 2006 and 2007.

Like most Wikitales, the mysterious pas de deux between Elevation and the Foundation has a certain surreal quality. At one point, Bono turns up on the rooftop of a five-star Mexican hotel, telling Jimbo Wales he should jettison Wikipedia's volunteer editors and hire pros.

There you have it. ®

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