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Patagonia Founder Announces He Is Giving Away His Billion Dollar Company

The billionaire owner of Patagonia is giving his entire company away in a bid to help fight climate change, he has announced.
Credit: Patagonia & Alamy

The billionaire owner of Patagonia is giving his entire company away in a bid to help fight climate change, he has announced.

Yvon Chouinard – who is said to have turned his passion for rock climbing into one of the largest sportswear brands in the world – is to give his entire business away to a ‘uniquely structured trust and nonprofit’, in order to put all of Patagonia’s profits into ‘saving the planet’.

According to The Guardian, the company announced on Wednesday: “As of now, Earth is our only shareholder.

“ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to ‘save our home planet’.”

Chouinard, 83, has worked with his wife and two children and company lawyers to create a plan that allows the company to continue to operate as a ‘for-profit’ company with environmental causes benefitting from the proceeds.

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He said in a statement: “If we have any hope of a thriving planet – much less a thriving business – 50 years from now, it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have.

“This is another way we’ve found to do our part.”

Two per cent of all stock and decision-making authority has been donated by the family to a trust which will now ‘oversee the company mission and values’.

According to the statement, the rest of the company’s stock will go to a nonprofit called the Holdfast Collective, which ‘will use every dollar received to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities, as quickly as possible’.

The statement said the new structure was designed to ‘avoid selling the company or taking it public’, which may have seen a change in values.

Chouinard added: “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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Patagonia board chair Charles Conn wrote in an opinion piece in Fortune magazine on Wednesday: “Instead of exploiting natural resources to make shareholder returns, we are turning shareholder capitalism on its head by making the Earth our only shareholder.”

Chouinard had opened his statement by saying: “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.”

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