Gapminder was founded in Stockholm on 25 February 2005 by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, and Hans Rosling. In 2006, Hans gave his first TED talk, called, “The best statistics you’ve ever seen”. It became one of the most watched TED talks ever.
Since its founding, Gapminder has developed several innovative data visualizations. The bubble chart software Trendalyzer was acquired by Google in 2007 and Gapminder’s team moved to Google’s headquarters in California. Whilst there, the team integrated Trendalyzer into Google’s infrastructure, and also improved Google’s search to show better results for global statistics from big data providers.
In 2010, Anna and Ola returned to Gapminder to develop free teaching materials. To prioritize, they decided to test what people were wrong about. They discovered that people were wrong about almost everything they were tested on and so the Ignorance Project was born, with the mission of trying to figure out what people were wrong about and why. Materials were then developed to help people improve their knowledge to become more fact-based.
In 2016, Gapminder launched Dollar Street, a photo project where homes from all over the world were systematically documented and ordered by income, where the poorest live to the left and the richest to the right.
Also in 2016, Anna, Ola and Hans started writing the book Factfulness, which was published in 2018, one year after Hans passed away from pancreatic cancer. When the book was published it became an international bestseller immediately and has sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide and is translated into 45 languages.
The next phase of the Gapminder journey is to scale up its Ignorance project and release an app where people can take tests and learn important global facts. Since the coronavirus became a pandemic, Gapminder has begun to spend more time trying to understand and explain the virus and our responses to it.
Gapminder’s main focus is to:
- Find (and fix) systematic misconceptions about global trends and proportions.
- Keep our tools (like the bubble chart and Dollar Street) up-to-date and freely available.
- Explore and develop new ways of explaining important global trends and proportions to make them easier to understand.
Gapminder does not award any grants. It is an operating foundation that provides services as defined by the board, sometimes in collaboration with universities, UN organizations, public agencies, and non-government organizations.