History

Gapminder was founded in Stockholm on 25 February 2005 by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling. In 2006, Hans held his first TED talk called, “The best statistics you’ve never seen”. It became one of the most watched TED talks ever, thanks to its unique combination of knowledge testing, animated bubble charts and storytelling about global development.

Those animated bubble charts were created using a software called Trendalyzer, which Gapminder had developed to make global public data understandable. In 2007, Google bought Trendalyzer and the team of developers moved to Google’s headquarters in California. Over three years the team improved the user experience for the search and exploration of global public data.

In 2010, Anna and Ola decided to leave Google and return to Gapminder to develop free teaching material. In order to prioritize what content to include, they started the Ignorance Project, in which they measured public knowledge (or rather the lack of knowledge). They soon realized that spreading facts wasn’t enough. The problem was bigger. They discovered that most people had a worldview that was overdramatic and wrong.

To help combat this mass ignorance about the world, Anna, Ola and Hans started writing a book. Factfulness was published in 2018 and has been translated into more than 25 languages. It is a New York Times and Amazon best seller.

Sadly, Hans didn’t live to see the book published. He passed away on 7 February 2017. His drive to educate the public about global development lives on though, with Ola and Anna continuing to lead Gapminder as it finds new ways to promote a fact-based worldview.

Gapminder does not award any grants. It is an operating foundation that provides services as defined by the board, sometimes as collaborative projects with universities, UN organisations, public agencies and non-governmental organisations.

To fulfil our aim, we are currently working on:

  • Creating thousands of questions and testing the general public around the world to identify misconceptions and to find ways to unveil them.
  • Keeping our tools’ statistical content up-to-date and making time series freely available. 
  • Producing educational materials such as videos, presentations, and many types of graphics for everyone to use freely.