After a crazy exciting year for my various projects, I can certainly appreciate the holidays now...
My main project Eyeo (makers of Adblock Plus) was certainly responsible for most of the crazyness. Ad blocking has been around for over a decade, but suddenly this summer Apple decided to allow ad blocking in iOS 9, and the advertising world went crazy. Around the same time, we decided to 'open-source' our "Acceptable Ads" program, which has in the course of the year grown to over 100 million users world-wide. Still all run by a small but top-notch team of 50 in Cologne, Germany... recently named 'one of the top 20 startups world-wide to work for', which is something we're very proud of. The only thing which calmed us a little this year, was that we won all four lawsuits in which web sites wanted to force users to watch ads and be tracked, and prohibit ad blocking and software like Adblock Plus. But there's hope for 2016: Web sites and advertisers are realizing more and more that you can not work against, but only work with their users - for example by simply tuning down the amount and size of ads online. Something we have been fighting for years now, and will continue to fight.
I'm also super happy with Ecosia.org, our "search engine that plants trees". Simply by switching from Google/Yahoo/Bing to Ecosia, our users have now generated over $5 million in donations and thereby planted over three million trees. Ecosia's team in Berlin has done an amazing job in spreading the word... and more than deserved this year having rewarded themselves with the most beautiful, yet most sustainable and frugal office I have ever seen. Please, do me a favor, if you haven't tried Ecosia, please try it now, and consider making a switch.
I definitely owe a big "Thank You" to the fantastic founders and teams who run each of our startups. Good news, all of them are still alive, some doing very well, others just tugging along - as usual, in the s