Fireball (search engine)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Fireball logo.svg
FRB screenshot.png
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, 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,[1] Nurhan Yildirim and Benhui Chen as contract work for Gruner + Jahr,[2] 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[3][4] and launched an e-mail service called Firemail and a news search engine called Paperball.[5] Fireball was mostly focused on German-language results, for international search results it used AltaVista.

In March 2000 Fireball was taken over by Lycos Europe.[6] Under the ownership of Lycos, development of Fireball slowed.[7] 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.[8] Despite several attempts to relaunch the service, its market share continued to decline to 2.5% in 2002 and only 0.3% in 2005.[9] In 2002, Fireball ceased to be an independent company and was run directly by Lycos Europe.[10]

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. Search results are nowadays mostly based on Bing.


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