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Patagonia’s Founder Gives Company Away to Fight Climate Change

Ownership of the $3 billion company is being transferred to a nonprofit.




Patagonia's store in New York City's Meatpacking District, close to Chelsea and the West Village. Photography: Ricardo Parra, New York
Patagonia’s store in New York City’s Meatpacking District, close to Chelsea and the West Village. Photography: Ricardo Parra, New York

Patagonia (Ventura, Calif.) Founder Yvon Chouinard is giving away his $3 billion outdoor apparel company in the name of saving the planet, according to a statement on the brand’s website. The 83-year old billionaire is handing ownership of his company to a nonprofit dedicated to fighting climate change.

From now on, after business reinvestment, all profits generated by Patagonia will go toward bettering the environment.

“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,” says Chouinard in the letter posted on Patagonia’s website. “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.”

Chouinard and his family will transfer 100 percent of the company’s voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, an entity created to protect the company’s values of sustainability and commitment to the planet. One hundred percent of the nonvoting stock — representing 98 percent of all the company’s shares — will transfer to the Holdfast Collective, the nonprofit that will filter the company’s yearly profits (awarded as a dividend) in the name of protecting the environment.

Chouinard says he considered selling the company and donating the profits outright or taking the company public. The former outdoorsman and craftsman who saw his climbing gear company become a $100-million-per-year business, saw either option leading to a corrosion of the company’s core values.

Chouinard ended the letter with, “Despite its immensity, the earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.”




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