The entertaining professor who founded the organization may feel a twinge of regret for going the charity route.
The Swedish newspaper (in English) The Local says that Google has acquired the rights to the Trendalyzer software developed by Prof. Hans Rosling for the Gapminder Foundation (Swedish foundation, no Form 990)(Gapminder web site). The software animates country development statistics from the UN and other sources and really is remarkably engaging to work with.
Prof. Rosling was a hit at the 2006 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference with this presentation, which illustrates more of the capabilities of the software than are apparent in the online demo.
Coincidentally, TED, a big idea conference held annually in Monterey, California, is a for-profit venture started by Chris Anderson that is currently owned by a charity, the Sapling Foundation (EIN 94-3235545 Form 990).
The professor may have miscalculated when he made his project nonnprofit, but since the project works with UN statistics, it could be that it wouldn't work any other way than as an NGO. (TED, by contrast, ended up as one of the few surviving pieces of Mr. Anderson's dot-com enterprises after the crash.)
The exiting potential of Trendalyzer is not only in its flashy user interface, but also in the potential for sparking more interest in statistics, perhaps even:
- re-energizing flagging projects like neighborhood indicators in the US or
- encouraging Guidestar to give the public access to its public data about charities.