Billionaire Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard Has Given Away The $3 Billion Company To Help Combat Climate Change

Patagonia, Inc. is an American retailer of outdoor clothing. It was founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973 and is based in Ventura, California.

But today, Patagonia is under new ownership.

Yvon Chouinard, who founded the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia and became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given away the company. All Patagonia’s profits will now be used to fight climate change.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who has donated $3 billion to environmental causes, announced the news Wednesday, confirming that he and his family gave away the company in an effort to fight climate change.

The decision to transfer ownership of the Patagonia brand comes nearly 50 years after the rock climber-turned-billionaire opened the first Patagonia store in Ventura, California. In the following decades, the Chouinards owned and operated Patagonia as a private, for-profit company that specializes in outdoor gear and apparel. That all changed last month when the family transferred ownership of Patagonia’s intellectual property to two entities: the Holdfast Collective and Patagonia Purpose Trust.”

According to the New York Times, all of the company’s voting stock (approximately 2 percent of the total) will go into the latter entity, while the remaining 98 percent will go into the Holdfast Collective. The Chouinards will oversee the PPT along with advisers. The trust will ensure the company doesn’t stray from its core values and longstanding commitment to sustainable practices.

“Hey, friends, we just gave our company to planet Earth. OK, it’s more nuanced than that, but we’re closed today to celebrate this new plan to save our one and only home. We’ll be back online tomorrow.”

“Instead of “going public,” you could say we’re “going purpose.” Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.”

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Yvon Chouinard said that all profits that aren’t reinvested into the company will go toward the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis. The Times reports that Chouinard and his wife did not receive any tax benefits for moving their manufacturing operations overseas.

“Patagonia is an example of what major corporations actually have the power to do — if they decided to change the word instead of seek bottom line returns. However, in America, corporations usually use their wealth to evade prosecutions and to ruin lives:”

“Earth is now our only shareholder,” Chouinard wrote in his announcement. He went on to add, “While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”

“This is a real game-changer, raising the bar on what a socially conscious business can look like.”

Yvon also posted a letter on Patagonia’s official website.

“Earth is now our only shareholder.”

“If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a business—it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is what we can do.”

By Yvon Chouinard

“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel. As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done. If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.

We started with our products, using materials that caused less harm to the environment. We gave away 1% of sales each year. We became a certified B Corp and a California benefit corporation, writing our values into our corporate charter so they would be preserved. More recently, in 2018, we changed the company’s purpose to: We’re in business to save our home planet.

While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”

“Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.”

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Sources: Patagonia, Complex, The Newyork Times

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