Ecosia

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Ecosia
Ecosia logo
Type of site
Search engine
Available inEnglish and 27 other languages
CEOChristian Kroll
Revenue28M€ (2021)[1]
URLecosia.org
CommercialYes
Users20,000,000[2][3]
Launched7 December 2009; 12 years ago (2009-12-07)
Current statusActive

Ecosia is a search engine based in Berlin, Germany. Ecosia considers itself a social business, claiming to be CO2-negative, and supports full financial transparency and protects the privacy of its users.[4][5]

Ecosia is B Lab-certified, meeting its standards of accountability, sustainability, and performance. As of July 2022, the company claims to have planted more than 154 million trees and counting since its inception.[6]

Search engine[edit]

At launch, the search engine 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.[7]

Ecosia's search results have been provided by Microsoft Bing since 2017.[8]

In 2018, Ecosia committed to becoming a privacy-friendly search engine. Searches are encrypted (presumably with standard HTTPS) and not stored permanently, nor is data sold to third-party advertisers. The company states in its privacy policy that it does not create personal profiles based on search history or use external tracking tools like Google Analytics.[9]

Ecosia users conduct over 10,000 searches every minute.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12][13][14] In October 2018, founder Christian Kroll announced he had given part of his shares to the Purpose Foundation.[15] 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.[16][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 essentially see 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]

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 on servers and software, compared with €381,000 on personnel costs.[18]

In April 2021, Ecosia handled 0.4% of European search requests, behind DuckDuckGo's 0.5%, Bing's 2.9%, and Google's 93.2%.[18]

Investments[edit]

In October 2020, Ecosia announced it had bought a 20% stake in the debit card company TreeCard.[19][20] It planned to launch a new debit card in 2021, in partnership with Mastercard.[21]

Debit cards produced by TreeCard are made of British cherry wood instead of the customary plastics found in most other debit cards.[20][21] Plans call for 80% of the company's profits to go to Ecosia's global reforestation projects.[20]

History[edit]

Ecosia was launched on 7 December 2009 to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen.[22] Over time, Ecosia has supported various tree-planting programs. Until December 2010, Ecosia's funds went to a WWF Germany program that protected Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin. To protect this area, the organizers drew up and financed plans with timber companies and local communities.[23]

By 2011, the search engine had raised over €250,000.[24]

In 2015, a blog post on the company's website announced its intention of planting one billion trees by the year 2020, calling the idea 'ambitious' but worthwhile.[25] Ecosia ended up meeting only 10–12% of the goal by 2020's end.[26]

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.[27][28][29] These reforestation efforts would be focused on Brazil and Burkina Faso.[27] While such efforts can benefit ecosystems where the trees are planted, botanists have warned that if such reforestation efforts are badly managed, they can harm the environment more than benefit it.[27]

Previously, the organization directed only 80% of its revenue towards reforestation programs. As of June 9, 2022, Ecosia has become fully nonprofit, donating all 100% of funds to support the planting of native tree species worldwide.[30]

Impact[edit]

The company works with multiple organizations to plant trees in 35 countries throughout the world.[31][32]

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. In June 2022 Ecosia had passed 150 million trees planted.[33][34][35][36] It was reported in the same month that Ecosia, on average, was able to fund a tree planting every 0.8 seconds – averaging 75 per minute or 108,000 per day – with the revenue it makes from advertising.[35]As of June 2022 Ecosia has financed 179,629,204 trees according to its financial reports.[37]

Ecosia has stressed that it is not only carbon-neutral but carbon-negative. Combining its tree-planting initiative with investment in solar energy to power its servers (running on "200% renewable energy"[3]), each search is said to remove 1 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere.[3][38]

Ecosia has been a certified B Corporation since April 2014.[39][40] The company's B-Impact Score was 113.4 on a scale from 0 to 200, an improvement over 2014 and 2016 scores of around 98.[39] B Lab, the organisation which certifies B Corporations based on areas such as employment, community issues, and the environment, said that as of August 2021:

"[In] donating 80 percent of its ad revenue, the search engine has raised almost $3 million for reforestation projects since its founding in December 2009".[39]

An article in Ethical Consumer examined Ecosia and its relation to it search provider, Bing. Giving Ecosia an "Ethiscore" of 11, in contrast to Google (5.5) and Microsoft Bing (6.5), Ethical Consumer found Ecosia to be superior to the other search engine companies it looked at, but marked it down in seven categories for its relationship with Microsoft (the lowest scorer in those categories).[41] Ethical Consumer made a point of clarifying that it's not the actual searches which lead to tree planting, but the click-through of search engine users to the ads, and called for improved transparency concerning its relationship with Microsoft Bing.[41]

Browser integration[edit]

Ecosia is available on Google Chrome,[12] Firefox,[13] Safari,[42] Microsoft Edge,[43] and other browsers as a default search engine by downloading the extension from the Chrome Web Store or Mozilla's Addon site, among others.

As of 26 January 2016, with its version 26 release, the Pale Moon web browser has included Ecosia as its default search engine, as has the Polarity web browser since its 8 release in 15 February 2016.[44] Ecosia also briefly was the default search engine of the Waterfox web browser starting with version 44.0.2.[45] And Vivaldi has included Ecosia as a default search engine option since its version 1.9 release.[46] In March 2018, Firefox 59.0 added Ecosia as a search engine option for the German version.[47][48]

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.[49] 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.[50] On 28 January 2021, Ecosia became an official search engine on the Brave browser as a result of a partnership announced that day by both companies.[51][52]

On 12 August 2019, Ecosia announced it would not participate in the "search-choice" auction to appear on Android devices led by Google.[5] 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".[5]

Ecosia at University Campuses[edit]

Ecosia became the default search engine at a number of European universities, including UWE Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, and Lincoln in the United Kingdom,[10] and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.[53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ecosia business reports/Financial Reports & Tree Planting Receipts". Dropmark. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ "What is Ecosia?". info.ecosia.org.
  3. ^ a b c Kelly, Ross (8 April 2021). "How Ecosia is helping tackle climate change, one click at a time". Digit. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Search Engines Won't Support Google's Auction". PYMNTS.com. What's Next Media and Analytics. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Oates, John (12 August 2019). "Green search engine Ecosia thinks Google's Android auction stinks, gives bid a hard pass". The Register. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Ecosia is the search engine that plants trees". info.ecosia.org. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  7. ^ jlo (12 September 2014). "Ecosia: Eine Suchmaschine möchte den Regenwald retten" [A search engine wants to save the rain forest]. Sueddeutsche.de (in German).
  8. ^ Bearne, Suzanne (30 August 2020). "The search engine boss who wants to help us all plant trees". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 July 2022. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  9. ^ "We protect your privacy". info.ecosia.org.
  10. ^ a b Farmbrough, Heather. "How The World's Largest Green Search Engine Is Fighting Climate Change". Forbes. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  11. ^ "How does Ecosia make money?". Ecosia's FAQ. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ a b "Ecosia — The search engine that plants trees 🌱 – Get this Extension for 🦊 Firefox (en-US)". addons.mozilla.org. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  14. ^ Smith, Adam (27 January 2021). "Green search engine Ecosia partners with pro-privacy Brave browser". The Independent. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  15. ^ Tönnesmann, Jens (24 October 2018). "Good bye, Frau Merkel". Zeit.de (in German). Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  16. ^ Köhn-Haskins, Josefine; Thomas, Jan (9 October 2018). "Ecosia-Gründer Christian Kroll ist ein Überzeugungstäter". Berlin Valley (in German). Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  17. ^ Dean, Grace. "Search engine Ecosia plants trees in exchange for searches. It uses pay-per-click ads to fund projects that positively impact both people and nature". Business Insider. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  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. ^ "TreeCard - The wooden debit card that plants trees". treecard.org. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Paul Hill (15 October 2020). "Ecosia will fund tree-planting with spend on wooden debit card". Neowin. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  21. ^ a b 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.
  22. ^ Donoghue, Andrew (4 December 2009). "Microsoft-Backed Green Search Engine Attacks Google". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Carrington, Damian (3 June 2011). "Green search engine means you click and save the rainforest". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ Ecosia — Year in Trees 2020, retrieved 26 August 2021
  27. ^ a b c Sofia Lotto Persio (9 June 2021). "Former Reddit CEO's New Startup Terraformation Raises $30 Million To Restore Forests And Tackle Climate Change". Forbes. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  28. ^ "A holistic tree-planting service for your business". The Ecosia Blog. 3 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  29. ^ Dynata (3 June 2021). "Dynata Partners With Ecosia Trees, The Green Search Engine's New Reforestation Service". PR Newswire. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  30. ^ "We're all in: the Ecosia manifesto". The Ecosia Blog. 9 June 2022. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  31. ^ "Where does Ecosia plant trees?". Ecosia's FAQ. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  32. ^ "Why does Ecosia plant trees?". Ecosia's FAQ. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  33. ^ "Ecosia users have planted 100 million trees: a milestone and a beginning!". The Ecosia Blog. 9 July 2020.
  34. ^ Ohr, Thomas (9 July 2020). "Europe's green search engine Ecosia reaches milestone of 100 million trees planted".
  35. ^ a b Hill, Paul (1 July 2020). "Ecosia search engine approaches 100 million planted trees". Neowin. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "Ecosia's financial reports". The Ecosia Blog. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  38. ^ "How does Ecosia neutralize a search's CO2 emissions?". Zendesk. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  39. ^ a b c "Ecosia GmbH". bcorporation.net. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  40. ^ Evon, Dan (27 August 2019). "Does Search Engine Ecosia Use Profits to Plant Trees?". Snopes.com.
  41. ^ a b Owens, Jasmine (4 March 2021). "How ethical is the search engine Ecosia?". Ethical Consumer. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  42. ^ "Ecosia now a default search engine option on iOS, iPadOS, macOS". AppleInsider. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  43. ^ "Microsoft Edge Addons". microsoftedge.microsoft.com. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  44. ^ "Windows – Polarity". Polarity Weebly. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  45. ^ "Help Support Waterfox". Waterfox. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ "Release Notes for Firefox 59". Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla Corporation. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  48. ^ "Mozilla makes Ecosia a Firefox search option in Germany". Ecosia. March 2018. Archived from the original on 11 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  49. ^ "Tree planting search engine Ecosia is getting a visibility boost in Chrome". TechCrunch. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  50. ^ "Ecosia now a default search engine option on iOS, iPadOS, macOS". AppleInsider. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  51. ^ "Introducing a better internet: Ecosia is now available on Brave, the privacy browser". 28 January 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  52. ^ "Ecosia is now an Official Search Engine Option on Brave". 28 January 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  53. ^ "Ecosia". Green Office. 28 April 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2021.

External links[edit]