The salaries of Wikimedia executives are sparking an online debate about tech sector wages

Wikimedia's executive salaries are currently a topic of discussion on X. The Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that oversees and sustains Wikipedia, relies on a community of volunteers to create and edit content for Wikipedia, while the foundation manages the website's technical infrastructure.  
The foundation publishes its finances, including its IRS filings, on its website every year.

A screenshot of Wikimedia's 2021 IRS filing that zeroes in on executive salary was shared on X on Tuesday. The post has since garnered 9 million views and 5,000 likes on the platform — and it kicked off a conversation about salaries in the tech world.

In 2021, Katherine Maher, Wikimedia's ex-CEO who departed the company in April 2021, earned $789,495, the filing shows. Over $600,000 of that sum was paid out as severance.

COO Janeen Uzzell, who left the company in June 2021, earned $503,844 in 2021, the filing shows. Over $300,000 of that was paid out as severance.

Meanwhile, CFO Jaime Villagomez made $386,433, while general counsel Amanda Keton made $396,514. On the lower end, vice presidents Carol Dunn and Margaret Novotny were paid $241,438 and $242,379 respectively, the filing shows.

While the person who shared the screenshot on X called the salary data a "grift," most of the comments pointed to something else: The disparity between the salaries of Wikimedia's top executive and those of other tech leaders.

One person said, in a post that racked up over 4,000 likes, that Wikipedia executives should make more money than Google CEO Sundar Pichai, considering the importance of Wikipedia entries to Google's search engine results.

"The CEO of the most important website in history makes $790,000. The CEO of Docusign, a company that JUST signs documents for you, made $85,940,000 this year," wrote another person, whose post garnered over 22,000 likes.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai's total compensation was $225 million in 2022. Docusign CEO Allan Thygesen made $85 million in the same year, their respective SEC filings show.

The comparison wasn't limited to just tech leaders.

"A mid career software engineer at FB makes more than that," wrote another person.

While estimates for Meta software engineer salaries vary, Business Insider has reported that entry-level software engineers at the company can make more than $170,000. BI also reported in October 2022 that software engineer salaries at the company can reach up to $308,148, not including stock options.

According to web analytics firm SimilarWeb, Wikipedia was the seventh most-visited website in the world in November.

And it isn't just humans who rely on it. As of 2022, Google has been paying the Wikimedia Foundation to reuse substantial chunks of information from Wikipedia. The encyclopedia is also one of the most important sources of training data for AI tools like ChatGPT, Nicholas Vincent, a professor at Simon Fraser University, told The New York Times.

The Wikimedia Foundation did not immediately respond to BI's request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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