Type of site
|Web search engine|
|Available in||English and 26 other languages|
|Alexa rank||391 (January 2020[update])|
|Launched||7 December 2009|
Ecosia is a search engine based in Berlin, Germany, that donates 80% or more of its profits to nonprofit organizations that focus on reforestation. It considers itself a social business, is CO2-negative, claims to support full financial transparency and protect the privacy of its users. Ecosia is also B Lab-certified.
At launch, the search engine originally provided a combination of search results from Yahoo! and technologies from Bing and Wikipedia. Ads were delivered by Yahoo! as part of a revenue sharing agreement with the company.
Ecosia's search results are now provided by Bing and enhanced by the company's own algorithms. It is currently available as a web browser or mobile app on Android and iOS devices, as well as on PCs and Macs.
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, taking 0.22 euro (€) and 0.8 seconds to plant a tree.
Ecosia uses 80% of its profits (47.1% of its income) from advertising revenue to support tree planting projects, the rest is put into backup reserves for unforeseen circumstances – if these reserves are not used they are channeled back into the company's tree planting fund. The company publishes monthly financial reports on its website. In October 2018, founder Christian Kroll announced that he has given part of his shares over to the Purpose Foundation. 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.
Ecosia was launched on 7 December 2009 to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Over time, Ecosia has supported various tree-planting programs. Until December 2010, Ecosia's funds went to a program by WWF Germany that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin. To protect this area, the organizers drew up and financed plans with timber companies and the local communities.
In 2011, the search engine had raised over 250,000€.
From July 2013 to September 2014, Ecosia donated to the Plant a Billion Trees program run by The Nature Conservancy, a program that aimed to restore the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by planting one million native trees by 2015.
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 had planted more than 2 million trees.
In May 2015, Ecosia was shortlisted for The Europas, the European Tech Startups Awards, under the category Best European Startup Aimed At Improving Society.
On the 23rd of January 2020, Ecosia donated all of its profits from that day to ReForest Now, a local NGO that not only plans to restore the forests, but also "make the area more resilient against future fires". They claimed that the profits were used to plant 26,446 trees.
The company works with multiple organizations, such as the Eden Reforestation Projects, Hommes et Terre, and various local partners, to plant trees in 16 countries throughout the world. Ecosia currently has one or more projects in the following countries: Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Indonesia.
As of 21 July 2017, the web browser Brave has featured Ecosia as a default search option. With the release of version 26 (on 26 January 2016), the Pale Moon web browser added Ecosia as a default, as did version 8 of the Polarity web browser on 15 February 2016. Ecosia is the default search engine of the Waterfox web browser since version 44.0.2. Since version 1.9, Vivaldi has included Ecosia as a default search engine option. In March 2018, Firefox 59.0 added Ecosia as a search engine option for the German version.
As of 21 August 2019, Ecosia announced that it will not participate in the "search-choice" auction to appear on Android devices led by Google. This means that in 2020 European Android phone users will 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 have chosen to give discrimination a different form and make everyone else but themselves pay, which isn't something we can accept." Applications to participate in the "search-choice" auction were due in mid-September.