Ecosia

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Ecosia
Ecosia logo
Type of site
Search engine
Available inEnglish and 26 other languages
CEOChristian Kroll
Revenue19.1M€ (2019)[1]
URLecosia.org
CommercialYes
Users15,000,000+[2]
Launched7 December 2009; 11 years ago (2009-12-07)
Current statusActive

Ecosia is a search engine based in Berlin, Germany. It donates 80% of its profits to nonprofit organizations that focus on reforestation. It considers itself a social business, is CO2-negative[3] and claims to support full financial transparency[4][5] and protect the privacy of its users.[6] Ecosia is also B Lab certified.[7]

As of May 2021, the company claims to have planted over 125 million trees since its inception.[8]

Search engine[edit]

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.[9]

Ecosia's search results are now provided by Bing and enhanced by the company's own algorithms.[6][10] It is currently available as a web browser or mobile app on Android and iOS devices, as well as on PCs and Macs.[8][failed verification]

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.[11]

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,[12] taking 0.22 euro (€)[12] and as of July 2020, or 0.75 seconds to plant a tree.[2]

Business model[edit]

Christian Kroll (2019), founder of Ecosia

Ecosia uses 80% of its profits (47.1% of its income) from advertising revenue to support tree planting projects.[13][14] 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.[15] In October 2018, founder Christian Kroll announced that he has given part of his shares over to the Purpose Foundation.[16] 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.[17]

In a May 2021 Handelsblatt article, example figures from March showed revenues of €1,969,440, while the largest expenditure was "Trees" at €789,113, ahead of the second-largest expenditure, operating costs, at €543,425. Users entering a keyword in Ecosia see essentially the same results as via Bing, including the ads. When someone clicks on an ad in Ecosia, Microsoft earns money, according to Kroll, but Ecosia gets a large portion of the sales. Kroll told Handelsblatt he's not allowed to reveal the exact percentage. The €789,113 expenditure for March 2021 amounted to 80% of that month's would-be profits.[18]

The cooperation between Ecosia and Microsoft benefits both companies: Microsoft makes a small profit via Ecosia, which presumably takes customers away from Google, and Ecosia can keep its investment in infrastructure small through the use of Bing's existing implementation. In March 2021, the 82-person company spent only €73,000 for servers and software, compared with €381,000 for its personnel costs.[18]

In April 2021 Ecosia handled 0.4% of European search requests, behind DuckDuckGo at 0.5%, Bing with 2.9%, and Google enjoying 93.2% of the market.[18]

Ecosia Travel[edit]

Ecosia Travel is a hotel search engine, implemented in partnership with HotelsCombined. The number of trees planted depends on the value of the booking.[19][20]

Investments[edit]

In October 2020 Ecosia announced that they had bought a 20% stake in the debit card company TreeCard.[21][22] The new debit card is planned to be launched in the year 2021 in partnership with Mastercard.[23]

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.[22][23] 80% of the company's profits are planned to go to Ecosia's global reforesting projects.[22] It is estimated that every $60 (or £45)[23] spent will plant one tree.[22] There will be an option to only have the digital card using the online payment services Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.[24][22]

History[edit]

Ecosia was launched on 7 December 2009 to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen.[25] 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.[26]

In 2011, the search engine had raised over €250,000.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

In 2015, a blog post on the company's site announced their intention of planting one billion trees by the year 2020, calling the idea 'ambitious' but worthwhile.[30] Ecosia ended up meeting only 10–12% of this goal by 2020's end.[citation needed]

Ecosia's servers have been running on 100% renewable energy since 2018. They have been expanding their solar energy plant to cope with the increasing numbers of users on their search platform.[31]

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.[32] RWE declined the offer.[33]

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"[34] They stated that the profits were used to plant 26,446 trees.[35][36]

On 3 June 2021, Ecosia announced Ecosia Trees, a service allowing other companies to buy trees at 1€ each that Ecosia would then plant and maintain.[37]

Impact[edit]

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.[38][39] 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.[40]

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.[41][42][43][44] It was reported in the same month that Ecosia, on average, was able to fund a tree every 0.8 seconds – averaging 75 per minute or 108,000 per day – with the revenue it makes from advertising.[43]

Browser integration[edit]

Ecosia is available on Google Chrome,[13] Firefox,[14] 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.[citation needed]

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.[45] Ecosia is the default search engine of the Waterfox web browser since version 44.0.2.[46] Since version 1.9, Vivaldi has included Ecosia as a default search engine option.[47] In March 2018, Firefox 59.0 added Ecosia as a search engine option for the German version.[48][49]

On 12 August 2019, Ecosia announced that it would not participate in the "search-choice" auction to appear on Android devices led by Google.[6] This meant that in 2020 European Android phone users did 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".[6]

As of 12 March 2020, Ecosia was included as a default search engine option for Google Chrome in 47 markets, the first time a not-for-profit search engine appeared as a choice to users.[50] On 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.[51] 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.[52][53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ecosia business reports/Financial Reports & Tree Planting Receipts". Dropmark. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "What is Ecosia?". info.ecosia.org.
  3. ^ "How does Ecosia neutralize a search's CO2 emissions?". Zendesk. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Financial Reports, Ecosia". Ecosia. Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Search Engines Won't Support Google's Auction". PYMNTS.com. What's Next Media and Analytics. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Oates, John (12 August 2019). "Green search engine Ecosia thinks Google's Android auction stinks, gives bid a hard pass". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Does Search Engine Ecosia Use Profits to Plant Trees?". Snopes.com.
  8. ^ a b "Ecosia is the search engine that plants trees". info.ecosia.org. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  9. ^ jlo (12 September 2014). "Ecosia: Eine Suchmaschine möchte den Regenwald retten" [A search engine wants to save the rain forest]. Sueddeutsche.de (in German).
  10. ^ "Where do Ecosia's search results come from?". Ecosia Knowledge Base. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  11. ^ "We protect your privacy". info.ecosia.org.
  12. ^ a b "How does Ecosia make money?". Ecosia's FAQ.
  13. ^ a b De Andrado, Mahesh (12 May 2019). "Search online and plant a tree with Ecosia". The Sunday Times Sri Lanka. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Ecosia — The search engine that plants trees 🌱 – Get this Extension for 🦊 Firefox (en-US)". addons.mozilla.org. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  15. ^ "In December, we spent €533,080 on trees". The Ecosia Blog. 18 February 2019.
  16. ^ Tönnesmann, Jens (24 October 2018). "Good bye, Frau Merkel". Zeit.de (in German). Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  17. ^ Köhn-Haskins, Josefine; Thomas, Jan (9 October 2018). "Ecosia-Gründer Christian Kroll ist ein Überzeugungstäter". Berlin Valley (in German). Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  18. ^ a b c Holzki, Larissa (11 May 2021). "Suchmaschine Ecosia: Bäume bilanzieren statt Gewinne maximieren" [Ecosia search engine: taking stock of trees instead of maximizing profits]. Handelsblatt (in German). Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Ecosia Travel: make your next journey a green one". Ecosia Blog. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  20. ^ "What is Ecosia Travel?". Ecosia Blog. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  21. ^ "TreeCard - The wooden debit card that plants trees". treecard.org. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  22. ^ a b c d e Paul Hill (15 October 2020). "Ecosia will fund tree-planting with spend on wooden debit card". Neowin. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  23. ^ a b c Callum Borroughs (15 October 2020). "Here's an exclusive look at the pitch deck a 23-year-old Y Combinator alum used to raise $1 million for ethical bank cards". Business Insider. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  24. ^ "TreeCard - How it works". treecard.org. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  25. ^ Donoghue, Andrew (4 December 2009). "Microsoft-Backed Green Search Engine Attacks Google". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  26. ^ Manisalidis, Ioannis; Stavropoulou, Elisavet; Stavropoulos, Agathangelos; Bezirtzoglou, Eugenia (20 February 2020). "Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution: A Review". Frontiers in Public Health. 8: 14. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2020.00014. ISSN 2296-2565. PMC 7044178. PMID 32154200.
  27. ^ Carrington, Damian (3 June 2011). "Green search engine means you click and save the rainforest". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Plant a Billion Trees". Plant a Billion Trees. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  29. ^ Butcher, Mike (18 May 2015). "The Shortlist Is Out – Vote Now In The Europas Awards For European Tech Startups". Techcrunch. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  30. ^ "We've planted a million trees – and this is how we'll reach one billion". The Ecosia Blog. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  31. ^ "Why 'carbon neutral' is not enough: Ecosia has built its own solar plants". The Ecosia Blog. 1 August 2019. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  32. ^ Connolly, Kate (9 October 2018). "Berlin startup offers €1m to save ancient Hambach forest from coal mining". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  33. ^ Kroll, Christian (25 October 2018). "Berlin startup offers €1m to save ancient Hambach forest from coal mining". The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  34. ^ ReforestNow (26 March 2020). "Our response to the Australian Fires. Partnering with Ecosia to reforest affected areas". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  35. ^ Joshi (20 January 2020). "On Thursday, all searches will plant trees in Australia". Ecosia Blog. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  36. ^ Joshi (24 January 2020). "Ecosia searches will plant 26,446 trees in Australia!". Ecosia Blog. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  37. ^ "A holistic tree-planting service for your business". The Ecosia Blog. 3 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  38. ^ "Where does Ecosia plant trees?". Ecosia's FAQ. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  39. ^ "Why does Ecosia plant trees?". Ecosia's FAQ. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  40. ^ "Where Ecosia plants trees". blog.ecosia.org.
  41. ^ "Ecosia users have planted 100 million trees: a milestone and a beginning!". The Ecosia Blog. 9 July 2020.
  42. ^ Ohr, Thomas (9 July 2020). "Europe's green search engine Ecosia reaches milestone of 100 million trees planted".
  43. ^ a b Hill, Paul (1 July 2020). "Ecosia search engine approaches 100 million planted trees". Neowin. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  44. ^ Rice-Oxley, Mark (10 July 2020). "The Upside weekly report - Want to feel benefits of a break? Don't give up the day job ..." The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  45. ^ "Windows – Polarity". Polarity Weebly. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  46. ^ "Help Support Waterfox". Waterfox. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  47. ^ Nestor, Marius (27 April 2017). "Vivaldi 1.9 Browser Is Out with Ecosia Search Engine to Help Reforest the Planet". Softpedia. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  48. ^ "Release Notes for Firefox 59". Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla Corporation. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  49. ^ "Mozilla makes Ecosia a Firefox search option in Germany". Ecosia. March 2018. Archived from the original on 11 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  50. ^ "Tree planting search engine Ecosia is getting a visibility boost in Chrome". TechCrunch. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  51. ^ "Ecosia now a default search engine option on iOS, iPadOS, macOS". AppleInsider. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  52. ^ "Introducing a better internet: Ecosia is now available on Brave, the privacy browser". Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  53. ^ "Ecosia is now an Official Search Engine Option on Brave". Retrieved 29 January 2021.

External links[edit]