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Ecosia is a search engine based in Berlin, Germany. It donates 80% or more of its profits to nonprofit organizations that focus on reforestation. It considers itself a social business, is CO2-negative and claims to support full financial transparency and protect the privacy of its users. Ecosia is also B Lab certified.


Search engine


At launch, the search engine originally provided a combination of search results from Yahoo! and technologies from Bing and Wikipedia. Ads were delivered by Yahoo! as part of the revenue sharing agreement with the company. Ecosia's search results are now provided by Bing and enhanced by the company's own algorithms. It is currently available as a web browser or mobile app on Android and iOS devices, as well as on PCs and Macs. In 2018, Ecosia committed to becoming a privacy-friendly search engine. Searches are encrypted and not stored permanently, and data is not sold to third-party advertisers. The company states in its privacy policy that it does not create personal profiles based on search history, nor does it use external tracking tools like Google Analytics. Ecosia shows advertisements next to its search results and is paid by partners every time a user is directed to an advertiser via a sponsored link. A single search on Ecosia raises approximately half a Euro cent (0.005 EUR) on average, according to Ecosia's FAQ, taking 0.22 euro (€) and as of July 2020, 0.75 seconds to plant a tree.


TreeCard


In October 2020 Ecosia announced that they had bought a 20% stake in the debit card company TreeCard. The new debit card is planned to be launched in the year 2021 in partnership with MasterCard. The debit cards produced by TreeCard are made of British cherry wood instead of plastics as is customary for many other debit cards because plastic takes a much longer time to decompose when discarded. 80% of the company's profits are planned to go to Ecosia's global reforesting projects. It is estimated that every $60 (or £45) spent will plant one tree. There will be an option to only have the digital card using the online payment services Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.


Business model


Ecosia uses 80% of its profits (47.1% of its income) from advertising revenue to support tree planting projects. The rest is put into backup reserves for unforeseen circumstances – if these reserves are not used they are channeled back into the company's tree planting fund. The company publishes monthly financial reports on its website. In October 2018, founder Christian Kroll announced that he has given part of his shares over to the Purpose Foundation. As a result, Kroll and Ecosia co-owner Tim Schumacher gave up their right to sell Ecosia or take any profits out of the company.

History

Ecosia was launched on 7 December 2009 to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Over time, Ecosia has supported various tree-planting programs. Until December 2010, Ecosia's funds went to a program by WWF Germany that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin. To protect this area, the organizers drew up and financed plans with timber companies and the local communities. In 2011, the search engine had raised over €250,000. From July 2013 to September 2014, Ecosia donated to the Plant a Billion Trees program run by The Nature Conservancy, a program that aimed to restore the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by planting one million native trees by 2015. In 2015, Ecosia began funding reforestation in Burkina Faso as part of the Great Green Wall project, backed by the African Union and the World Bank, that aims to prevent desertification. According to B Lab, as of January 2015, "In donating 80 percent of its ad revenue, the search engine has raised over $1.5 million for rainforest protection since its founding in December 2009". According to Ecosia, by 2015, the search engine had almost 2.5 million active users and had planted more than 2 million trees. In May 2015, Ecosia was shortlisted for The Europas, the European Tech Startups Awards, under the category Best European Startup Aimed At Improving Society. On 9 October 2018, Ecosia offered €1 million to buy the Hambach Forest from German energy company RWE AG to save it from being cut down for lignite mining. RWE declined the offer. On 23 January 2020, following the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, Ecosia donated all of its profits from that day to ReForest Now, a local NGO that not only plans to restore the forests, but also "make the area more resilient against future fires" They stated that the profits were used to plant 26,446 trees.


Impact


The company works with multiple organizations, such as the Eden Reforestation Projects, Hommes et Terre, and various local partners, to plant trees in 16 countries throughout the world. Ecosia currently has one or more projects in the following countries: Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Ivory Coast, United Kingdom, Canada, Rwanda, Bolivia, United States, Australia, Malawi. By July 2020, Ecosia had surpassed 100 million trees planted in total, resulting in over 50,000 metric tonnes of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere each month. It was reported in the same month that Ecosia, on average, is able to fund a tree every 0.8 seconds – averaging to 75 per minute; 108,000 per day – with the revenue it makes from advertising.


Browser integration


Ecosia is available on Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and other browsers as a default search engine by downloading the extension from the Chrome web store or Mozilla's Addon site respectively. With the release of version 26 (on 26 January 2016), the Pale Moon web browser added Ecosia as a default, as did version 8 of the Polarity web browser on 15 February 2016. Ecosia is the default search engine of the Waterfox web browser since version 44.0.2. Since version 1.9, Vivaldi has included Ecosia as a default search engine option. In March 2018, Firefox 59.0 added Ecosia as a search engine option for the German version. As of 21 August 2019, Ecosia announced that it will not participate in the "search-choice" auction to appear on Android devices led by Google. This means that in 2020 European Android phone users will not have the option to set Ecosia as a default search engine. Christian Kroll explained the boycott decision saying: "We're deeply disappointed that Google has decided to exploit its dominant market position in this way. Instead of giving wide and fair access, Google has chosen to give discrimination a different form and make everyone else but themselves pay, which isn't something we can accept". Applications to participate in the "search-choice" auction were due in mid-September 2019. As of 12 March 2020, Ecosia will be included as a default search engine option for Google Chrome in 47 markets. This addition represents the first time a not-for-profit search engine will appear as a choice to users. As of 14 December 2020, Apple's Safari web browser added Ecosia as a search engine option in macOS Big Sur 11.1 and iOS/iPadOS 14.3. On 28 January 2021, Ecosia became an official search engine on the Brave browser as a result of a partnership announced on that date by both companies.


See also


*Community interest company *Comparison of web search engines *Impact investing *List of search engines *Public-benefit corporation *Social purpose corporation *Stakeholder theory


References





External links


* – official site
Ecosia
company profile at Crunchbase {{Authority control Category:Internet search engines Category:Social economy Category:Social enterprises Category:Public economics Category:B Lab-certified corporations Category:Internet properties established in 2009 Category:2009 establishments in Germany Category:Companies based in Berlin