Trees not profits: we're giving up our right to ever sell Ecosia

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When I founded Ecosia a few years ago, I made two promises:

1. I will never sell Ecosia.

2. I will never take profits out of the company.

I made these promises because my goal for Ecosia has always been to make the world a greener, better place – not to get rich. I also wanted to prove that there is a more ethical way of doing business.

Since then, Ecosia has grown into something way bigger than myself: we’re not just planting millions of trees every month, we’re also becoming one of the largest environmental movements in the world.

And so I find it important to renew my commitment to my two promises by turning Ecosia into a so-called “steward-owned company”. This model imposes two legally binding and irreversible restrictions on us:

  1. Shares can’t be sold at a profit or owned by people outside of the company.
  2. No profits can be taken out of the company.

These two restrictions sound like a terrible idea to most traditional entrepreneurs. But Ecosia isn’t traditional. We’re not interested in maximizing profits, we’re interested in maximizing the amount of trees we plant.

I hope that many other businesses will follow suit. I truly believe that the world would be a better place if more businesses were driven by a meaningful cause instead of shareholder value maximization.

Yours,
Christian Kroll

P.S.: Being a “steward-owned company” means that it will be impossible for me – or anyone else – to sell Ecosia at a profit or take money out of the company. This obviously also applies to the former co-owner of Ecosia, Tim, an experienced entrepreneur I met a few years ago. He invested in Ecosia at a time when no one knew if this crazy project would ever work out. Tim, I cannot overstate how grateful I am that you agree to turn Ecosia into a non-profit company, effectively waiving your right to get any of your investment back.


To learn more about how we’re working with a third party to make sure Ecosia will always be not-for-profit and never pay dividends to anyone, listen to this podcast:

If you would like to learn more about steward-owned companies, have a look at this TED talk, this website and the Purpose Foundation.