Consider Switching Your Search Engine

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Christian Kroll was inspired to change the direction of his life after travelling through India

I remember testing Ecosia in 2013, when we were based in India. For some reason I no longer recall it did not remain my default search engine then. But after reading again about it now–and more about its founder’s ideas and expectations, and most importantly his actions–I was intrigued enough to do another test. Not exhaustive, but I compared the search results on Ecosia versus Google for a bunch of words and phrases that are of interest to me. Since Ecosia is connected to Bing I did not need to compare those results. Result? I have just made Ecosia my default search engine, for the reasons Mr. Kroll expected I would. And if for any reason I decide to switch back, this time I will report why here. But I do not expect to. This is an attempt to be consistent with my own expectations. Thanks to Suzanne Bearne for bringing this/him back to my attention:

The search engine boss who wants to help us all plant trees

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It supports 20 tree-planting projects in 15 different countries. Photo: JOSHI GOTTLIEN.

The BBC’s weekly The Boss series profiles different business leaders from around the world. This week we speak to Christian Kroll, the founder and chief executive of internet search engine Ecosia.

Christian Kroll wants nothing less than to change the world.

“I want to make the world a greener, better place,” he says.

“I also want to prove that there is a more ethical alternative to the kind of greedy capitalism that is coming close to destroying the planet.”

The 35-year-old German is the boss of search engine Ecosia, which has an unusual but very environmentally friendly business model – it gives away most of its profits to enable trees to be planted around the world.

Founded by Christian in 2009, Ecosia makes its money in the same way as Google – from advertising revenues. It earns cash every time someone clicks on one of the adverts that appears above and beside its search results.

Ecosia then donates 80% of the profits it makes from this to tree-planting charities. To date it has funded more than 105 million new trees, from Indonesia to Brazil, and Kenya to Haiti.

As obviously not everyone clicks on the adverts, the company estimates that, on average, it takes 45 searches to raise the 0.22 euro (20p; 26 US cents) cost of planting of one tree.

Today Berlin-based Ecosia says it has 15 million users. This is a tiny drop in the ocean compared with Google’s estimated 5.6 billion searches per day, but Christian says he has grand ambitions to “scale massively, win more users, and plant billions of trees”.

And unlike the billionaire founders of Google – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – he promises to never buy a super yacht. “While they have big yachts I have an inflatable dinghy that I take to lakes. Ego consumption is not appropriate in a world where there’s climate change.”

Christian would, in fact, struggle to buy a yacht if he ever wanted one, as he put two legally binding restrictions on the business – shareholders and staff cannot personally sell shares or take profits outside of the company…

Read the whole profile here.

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