Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s owner, gives his company away to save the world
The founder of an outdoor apparel brand is a billionaire and has transferred all stock to a nonprofit dedicated to combating the climate crisis.
Patagonia founder and billionaire Patagonia outdoor apparel brand are donating the company to trust to use the profits to combat the climate crisis.
Yvon Chouinard (83), who is well-known for his alpine climbs in Yosemite National Park, has a net worth of $1.2bn and could have sold the brand – which was valued at $3bn.
Instead, he, his spouse, and their children agreed to transfer all of Patagonia’s voting stock, which gives the holder voting rights in the company, to a trust that will take care of the brand’s environmental standards.
All non-voting shares of Patagonia have been transferred to a nonprofit body that fights against climate change and protects nature. The non-profit will also receive company profits.
He explained that he never intended to become a businessman. “I started as a craftsman making climbing gear for friends and myself. Then I moved into apparel.
He said: “As we began witnessing the extent of global warming, ecological destruction, as well our contribution to it,” Patagonia pledged to use its company to transform the business model.
Patagonia was founded almost 50 years ago. It quickly became a leader in conserving the environment by carefully selecting its raw materials, and donating 1% of its annual sales to environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Chouinard, however, has decided that this is not enough.
Patagonia could be sold and the money donated. He stated in the letter that he couldn’t be certain that a new owner would preserve our values and keep our team of people employed around the globe.
He stated that taking the company public would have been a “disaster” and said: “Even public corporations with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term profit at the expense of long-term vitality, and responsibility.”
Patagonia will continue to be a company that cares about its financial health. It will have a board and a CEO.
The Chouinard’s will no longer receive any money from the company, but they will remain on the board to oversee the trust and lead the nonprofit’s philanthropic efforts.
Members of Patogania’s board praised the decision after the announcement.
Charles Conn, chairman of the board, stated in an open letter that instead of exploiting natural resources to generate shareholder returns, he is turning shareholder capitalism on its ear by making the Earth his only shareholder.
This was a more difficult transition for us as a small company than for other companies. He said that companies should make clear purpose commitments that are beneficial to their businesses and be accountable to their communities.
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