Ecosia's logo, which consists of a doodle of Earth.
Type of site
|Available in||English and 26 others|
|Created by||Christian Kroll|
|Launched||7 December 2009|
|5,727 (May 2016[update])|
Ecosia is a web search engine based in Berlin, Germany, which donates 80% of its surplus income to nonprofit conservationist organizations, with a current focus on tree planting. As a "social business," Ecosia is a CO2-neutral company that supports full financial transparency, and is certified by B-labs as a B-corporation.
Ecosia’s search results are powered by Bing only. Like many other search engines, Ecosia shows ads next to its search results. Ecosia is paid by their partners at Microsoft Bing by every click on a sponsored link for having directed users to their advertisers.
How much Ecosia earns per click on an ad strongly varies, depending on the competition on the key word and the value of what is being advertised. Some search terms like “credit”, “bank account” or “solar panel” come with more lucrative ads than for example “chocolate” or “sticky notes”.
In general, a click on one of the more lucrative keyword ads may finance multiple trees at a time, others may finance a fraction. Taken into account that not every Ecosia user clicks on an ad every time they search, Ecosia states that every search raises around 0.5 Euro cents (consulted on March 23, 2015). Additionally, in the FAQs the company assures that “algorithms [are] active, which are designed to detect fake clicks and invalidate them”.
Ecosia also raises funds through its second product EcoLinks, a Browser Extension that allows users to donate for free to Ecosia through their online purchases. Operators of online shops pay a commission to Ecosia (usually a rate something between 2 and 10%) if a user lands on their shop through clicking on an EcoLink and purchases an item or any service.
Ecosia supports country-based country filtering but does not support the displaying of worldwide information as of July 2016.
In September, 2009, Ecosia received $21,500 in seed capital, and the search engine launched on 7 December 2009, to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Over time, Ecosia has donated to different tree-planting programs. Until December 2010 Ecosia’s donations went to a program by WWF Germany that protected the Juruena-National park in the Amazonas. In order to make sure the protection was kept up, the program also drew up and financed plans with timber companies and the local communities.
Between December 2009 and August 2013, Ecosia donated to the Plant a Billion Trees program run by the Nature Conservancy, which program aimed to restore the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by planting one billion native trees by 2015. By 2011, the search engine had raised over €250,000. In 2013, about 200,000 people were using Ecosia, and 116,000 seedlings had been funded by Ecosia's donations.
According to B-labs, 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 searches through it had resulted in more than 2 million trees being planted.
In spring 2013 Ecosia announced an improvement of its donation model as well as the quality of the search results. However, due to technical difficulties, the company temporarily had to use a feed subject to charges. At the same time, an Ecolink partner had suddenly terminated their partnership. As a result, due to the costs incurred to, Ecosia made an agreement with WWF whereby donations from November 2012 until February 2013 were restricted to 20.000 Euros per month. Once the financial bottleneck had been overcome, the normal donation model was immediately restored.
With a relaunch of the search engine on December 14, 2013 came the switch to a new reforestation program by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The switch signified a slight change of paradigm since the company was no longer protecting forested areas but rather financing a reforestation program. TNC’s programme “Plant a Billion Trees” aimed at reforesting the Mata Atlantica, the atlantic forest of Brazil.
Since October 2014 Ecosia is donating to the project “Greening the desert” by the organisation WeForest which aims at reforesting certain areas in northern Burkina Faso. This project will make up part of the so-called “Great Green Wall” in the Sahel. By funding this program Ecosia hopes to have a far-reaching impact not only on the environment but also on the local economies of the affected communities, as well as on their social stability and future food security.
In May, 2015, Ecosia was shortlisted for The Europas, the European Tech Startups Awards, under the category Best European Startup Aimed At Improving Society.
As of 27th April 2016, Ecosia ranks as the top 2 startup for Germany in the StartupRanking.
With the release of version 26 (on January 26, 2016), the Pale Moon web browser adds Ecosia as one of the default search engines. As of version 8 (on February 15, 2016), Polarity web browser switched to Ecosia as its default search engine. Since version 44.0.2+, Ecosia is the default search engine of the Waterfox web browser.
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