Yvon Chouinard Gives Patagonia (Literally)

Image from Patagonia.com

Yvon Chouinard has again put his money where his mouth is and donated his entire company. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two grown children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, worth about $3 billion, to a specially created trust and a non-profit organization.

“Hopefully this will affect a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” Mr. Chouinard, 83, said in an exclusive interview with the New York Times. “We will give the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working to save this planet.”

The founder of Patagonia has never been a fan of business traditions and has repeatedly opposed the trend of greed among billionaires and business leaders throughout his storied career.

To learn more about Yvon Chouinard’s revolutionary movement, check out this article from the New York Times and read Yvon’s letter on the future of Patagonia, below.

Image courtesy of Patagonia

VENTURA, California. (September 14, 2022)— Patagonia today announced new ownership, nearly 50 years since founder Yvon Chouinard began his experiment in responsible business. Effective immediately, the Chouinard family has transferred all ownership to two new entities: Patagonia Purpose Trust and Holdfast Collective. Most importantly, every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet.

The Patagonia Purpose Trust now owns all of the company’s voting stock (two percent of total shares) and exists to create a more permanent legal structure to preserve Patagonia’s purpose and values. It will help ensure it never deviates from the founder’s intent and facilitate what the company continues to do best: demonstrate as a profitable business that capitalism can work for the planet.

Holdfast Collective owns all non-voting stock (98 percent of total shares) and will use every dollar received from Patagonia to protect nature and biodiversity, support thriving communities and fight the environmental crisis. Each year, profits that are not reinvested back into the business will be distributed by Patagonia as a dividend to the Holdfast Collective to help fight the climate crisis. The company anticipates it will pay an annual dividend of about $100 million, depending on the health of the business.

Yvon Chouinard, founder, former owner and current board member of Patagonia said:

“Half a century has passed since we started our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it requires all of us doing the best we can with the resources we have. As the business leader I never wanted to be, I’m doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth that Patagonia creates to protect the resource. We are making the Earth our sole shareholder. I am serious about saving this planet.”

Patagonia will remain a B Corp and will continue to give a percentage of sales annually to grassroots activists. The company’s leadership does not change. Ryan Gellert will continue to serve as CEO and the Chouinard family will continue to serve on Patagonia’s board, along with Kris Tompkins, Dan Emmett, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Charles Conn (board chairman) and Ryan Gellert. The Chouinard family will also lead the company’s controlling shareholder, the Patagonia Purpose Trust, electing and overseeing Patagonia’s board of directors. They will also lead the philanthropic work carried out by the Holdfast Collective. Working together, the Patagonia board and the Patagonia Purpose Trust will work for the company’s continued success over the long term, ensuring it stays true to its purpose and values.

Ryan Gellert, Patagonia CEO and Patagonia board member said:

“Two years ago, the Chouinard family challenged some of us to develop a new structure with two central goals. They wanted us to protect the business purpose and immediately and permanently release more funds to fight the environmental crisis. We believe this new structure offers both and we hope it will inspire a new way of doing business that puts people and the planet first.”

The company first shared the news with its employees at a global town hall event on September 14, 2022. Shortly thereafter, the Patagonia.com website updated to state that Earth is now our sole shareholder and to include a letter from founder Yvon Chouinard.

Additional quotes from the Patagonia Board of Directors

“I first met Yvo when he was about 24 years old and today he is almost 84. In all those years, his vision has never wavered. He wanted to do things his way and on his terms. And while he is now in good health, he wanted to have a plan for the future of the company and the future of the planet. I believe this plan that he and his family helped create is tectonic. It will make the company more competitive and its employees around the world will be forever empowered by purpose.”
– Kristine McDivitt Tompkins

“Every time you read a new scientific report, it’s clear that the climate crisis is happening faster than we thought and it’s worse than we thought. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If we want to protect nature and support communities, businesses cannot continue to adhere to the prevailing economic model. Patagonia has been breaking the mold for decades and now they’ve smashed it. Now I want to know, which companies will be the next to grow?”
— Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

“The current system of capitalism has achieved its benefits at a great cost, including increasing inequality and large-scale uncompensated environmental damage. The world is literally on fire. Companies that create the next model of capitalism through deep commitment to purpose will attract more investment, better employees, and deeper customer loyalty. They are the future of business if we want to build a better world and that future starts with what Yvon is doing now.”
— Charles Conn, chairman of the board

“As the founder of a company that has been in business for nearly 50 years, I have seen the positive and negative impact a business can have on its communities and employees. But as we and others take meaningful steps to mitigate our impact on the planet, Patagonia’s new ownership structure introduces a new model that goes beyond anything that exists today. And it is true to form for my lifelong friend and fellow environmentalist, Yvon Chouinard.”
-Dan Emmett

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