Patagonia Founder Gives Away the $3 Billion Company to Save the Planet


| LAST UPDATE 09/15/2022

By Veronica Anderson
Yvon Chouinard Patagonia Founder
Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison Agency via Getty Images

"Earth is now our only shareholder," according to Patagonia's Founder, Yvon Chouinard, who has officially given away his multi-billion dollar company. The founder of the well-known outdoor realtor announced his decision to give away Patagonia to a nonprofit organization that has been specially designed to help combat climate change. The company is estimated to be worth around $3 billion.

The billionaire, Patagonia founder, penned an open letter to the world sharing he "never wanted to be a business" and began his career as a craftsman to create "climbing gear for my [his] friends" before Patagonia was born. His intention with Patagonia has always been to lead a "business to save our home planet" and help prevent "global warming and ecological destruction" by creating eco-friendly clothing and donating one percent of annual sales to grassroots activists. So, although he believes the company is doing its "best to address the environmental crisis, it's not enough," he wrote in the latter. So what would be the outcome?

Patagonia Planet Earth Shareholder
Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images
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Chouinard needed an innovative way to "put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company's values intact" but felt "there were no good options." The founder weighed their options, the first being to "sell Patagonia and donate all the money" and the second to take the company public, but admits that would have been a "disaster." As a result, the company created its own option, and instead of "going public," the company is "going purpose." Here's the final answer."100% of the company's voting stock transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect the company's values; and 100% of the nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. The funding will come from Patagonia: Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis."

"Hopefully, this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn't end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people," Chouinard told The New York Times. The billionaire boss signed off his letter reminding everyone that "the Earth's resources are not infinite," but it's possible to "save our planet if we commit to it." Check out Chouinard's full letter here.

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