More than a decade into their friendship, Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher can’t decide which of them is the thinker and which is the doer. They met during their first week as undergraduates in Zurich, where they studied engineering and bonded over mountain climbing and beer. Also, “we were kind of would-be entrepreneurs from the beginning,” Gebald says. They’ve been egging each other on ever since, swapping big-idea and get-things-done roles.
Climeworks, the company they started in Zurich in 2009, was inspired by Gebald’s master’s thesis, which applied an engineering perspective to the removal of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere. In June, when the first of the duo’s carbon-collecting machines went online, they became the first people to make money by de-warming the planet, collecting CO₂ directly from the air and selling it for use in greenhouses.
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