Fireball (search engine)

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Screenshot of Fireball home page as of 2019
Available inGerman, English
FoundedBerlin, Germany (1996 (1996))
IndustrySearch engine
Current statusActive

Fireball is a search engine operated by Fireball Labs GmbH, based in Munich, Germany. Founded in 1996,[1] Fireball was once the leading search engine in Germany, but quickly declined after being taken over by Lycos Europe and the rise of Google. In 2016, Fireball was re-established as an independent company and relaunched.


Fireball was originally called Flipper and started as a project of the Faculty of Computer Science at the Technical University of Berlin built by Oli Kai Paulus, Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen born Oertel,[2] Nurhan Yildirim and Benhui Chen as contract work for Gruner + Jahr,[3] one of Germany's largest publishing houses. It was renamed to Fireball in 1997. The same year, T-Online chose Fireball as its search engine. Fireball quickly rose in popularity and became one of the largest search engines in Germany. By 1998, it was considered market-leader in the country[4][5] and launched an e-mail service called Firemail and a news search engine called Paperball.[6] Fireball was mostly focused on German-language results, for international search results it used AltaVista.[citation needed]

In March 2000 Fireball was taken over by Lycos Europe.[7] Under the ownership of Lycos, development of Fireball slowed.[8] The takeover by Lycos as well as the rise of Google caused Fireball to massively lose market-share within a short time. By mid-2000, Fireball's market share had dropped to 22% and further eroded to 10% in 2001.[9] Despite several attempts to relaunch the service, its market share continued to decline to 2.5% in 2002 and only 0.3% in 2005.[10] In 2002, Fireball ceased to be an independent company and was run directly by Lycos Europe.[11]

In 2009, Lycos Europe was dissolved and Fireball was sold to Swiss company Ambrosia AG, which ran the service until 2016. In 2016, Fireball was again sold, this time to a group of investors from Munich who re-established Fireball as an independent company. A completely overhauled version of the service, with a strong focus on privacy, was launched the same year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fireball: A Journey of Rise, Fall, and Rebirth". Ijidola Digital Agency. 2024-05-14. Retrieved 2024-05-14.
  2. ^ "Helmut Hoffer v. Ankershoffen - neofonie GmbH". 4 March 2013. Archived from the original on 1 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  3. ^ "TU Berlin - Medieninformation Nr. 143 - 13. Juni 1997".
  4. ^ Bodo Thielmann: Strategisches Innovations-Management in konvergierenden Märkten: Medien- und Telekommunikationsunternehmen in Online-Diensten und im digitalen Fernsehen, Springer, 2013; p. 176
  5. ^ "Internet-Giganten der 1990er: Was wurde eigentlich aus ...?". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Fünf legendäre Fehlentscheidungen in der Geschichte der deutschen Online-Branche". 29 September 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Fireball gehört jetzt zu Lycos Europe". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Fireball: Bei Fireball überlebt nur die Marke". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Suchmaschinen Marktanteile in Deutschland 2001 - 2018". 15 March 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Marktanteile". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Aufgelöst wird die Fireball Netsearch GmbH". Retrieved 26 November 2018.