The People’s Operator
The People's Operator (or TPO Mobile) is a mobile virtual network operator that provides mobile phone services in the United Kingdom and the United States. Andrew Rosenfeld (who is known as a large donor to the Labour Party) founded the company in 2012. Upon his death, Jimmy Wales took over as Chairman of the Board. Mark Epstein, the co-founder of campaign agency Mass1, serves as its chief executive.
TPO officially launched in the United States on 21 July 2015. TPO uses Sprint and T-Mobile networks in the United States. TPO asserts that the service gives customers the opportunity to support their selected causes and receive updates on how their money is being spent, while businesses can fulfill their corporate social responsibility commitments. The company's stock dropped nearly 90 percent in value in its first year and a half. TPO suffered great reputational loss in 2016 after a transfer of customers from 3G to 4G service led to many of them waiting for weeks without phone service.
Jimmy Wales has accepted a new job as executive director of strategy and digital community for TPO. Wales started out owning 10% of the new company. However, as the company ran out of cash and called upon its investors to inject new capital, he elected to allow his ownership to drop to 5.8%.
When Wales was asked if he would allow the National Security Agency to install a backdoor in the TPO cell phone network, he said:
|“||I would go ballistic so at all I wouldn't do that, but no, as a virtual - so an MVNO - mobile virtual network operator so we partner with the people with infrastructure, so we have limited control over that aspect of things. However, we want to set best practices in the industry for privacy, data security and y'know, in whatever roles/influence I have either as a public person who opines on these issues, or in this role I would definitely say I'll campaign for our partners to say they should also be practicing the best practices. So, we definitely want to be a shining light in this area but I can't promise total control of the whole pipeline.||”|
Wales also designed a separate social networking website for TPO customers called "The TPO Community." However, it has not drawn the level of use has been gained by Wikipedia.
- Ruddick, Graham. "Wikipedia founder to float mobile phone company", The Telegraph, October 11, 2014. Retrieved on October 14, 2014.
- The People’s Operator partners with Three UK and targets 4G launch
- Tweedie, Steven (21 July 2015). Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is launching a social network and phone service to make it easier to donate to charity. Business Insider. Retrieved on 22 July 2015.
- Titlow, John Paul. "Jimmy Wales Wants You To Feel Good About Paying Your Cell Phone Bill", Fast Company, 21 July 2015. Retrieved on 13 August 2015.
- The People's Operator About-Us (Accessed: October 1, 2014)
- Investors hang up on Wikipedia founder, The Times, Nic Fildes, 15 June 2016.
- "DIRECTOR DEALINGS SUMMARY: Marston's CEO And Non-Executive Buy Shares", November 28, 2016. Retrieved on January 17, 2017.
- "Jimmy Wales says he'd go "ballistic" if NSA tried to gain backdoor into his new mobile operator", TechDigest. Retrieved on October 14, 2014.