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Patagonia owner Yvon Chouinard

Billionaire Patagonia Founder Gives Company Away to Fight Climate Change

Yvon Chouinard and his family are transferring ownership of the apparel company to a trust and nonprofit instead of pursuing a sale.


(Bloomberg) -- Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and his family are giving away ownership in the outdoor apparel company he created almost fifty years ago to a trust and a non-profit devoted to fighting the environmental crisis.

Chouinard considered selling the company or going public, but decided on the unusual move to ensure the company’s profits will go to protect the environment.

“What a disaster that would have been,” he wrote, according to a  statement posted on the Ventura, California-based company’s website. “Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility.”

Chouinard, his wife and two children participated in the Patagonia transfer, which is valued at about $3 billion, according to the New York Times, which first reported the move.

“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.”

All of the company’s voting stock will go to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and its non-voting stock to environmental nonprofit Holdfast Collective. It’s the latest and most drastic move Patagonia has made to address global warming. The company gives away 1% of sales each year and became a certified B Corp and a California benefit corporation. 

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

Chouinard is an American rock climber who founded the company in 1973.


To contact the author of this story:
Martine Paris in San Francisco at [email protected]

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