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

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.

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 start using Ecosia today, install our browser extension and download our app.

And 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.

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