Type of site
|Available in||English and 26 others|
|Created by||Christian Kroll|
|Launched||7 December 2009|
Ecosia is a web search engine based in Berlin, Germany, which donates 80% of its surplus income to non-profit conservationist organizations, with a focus on tree planting. Ecosia considers itself a "social business", is CO2-neutral and claims to support full financial transparency, and is certified by B-Lab as a benefit corporation. As of 14 June 2018, according to Ecosia over 30 million trees have been planted with its support.
Ecosia's search results are powered by Bing and Ecosia's own search algorithms.
Ecosia shows advertisements next to its search results, and are paid by their partners at Bing for every click on a sponsored link for having directed users to their advertisers. Considering that not every Ecosia user clicks on an ad every time they search, Ecosia states that on average a search raises around half a Euro cent (0.005 EUR).
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 between 2 to 10%) if a user lands on their shop through clicking on an EcoLink and purchases an item or any service.
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 Amazon basin. 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 the 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.
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 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 program "Plant a Billion Trees" aimed at reforesting the Mata Atlântica, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.
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.
As of 27 April 2016, Ecosia ranks in the top 2 start-up for Germany in the StartupRanking. Ecosia reached the milestone of 5 million trees planted on 7 September 2016, 10 million on 29 July 2017 and over 5.5 million active users, and 15 million on October 16 2017 and 17.5 million on 4 December 2017 and over 7 million active users on 10 December 2017. 21 million trees planted as of 24 February 2018. 30 million on 12 June 2018.
With the first release on July 21, 2017, Brave web browser features Ecosia as one of its default search engines. 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. Since version 1.9, Vivaldi browser includes Ecosia as a default search engine option. In March 2018, Firefox 59.0 added Ecosia as a search engine option for the German version.
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