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:
- Shares can’t be sold at a profit or owned by people outside of the company.
- 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.
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.
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: