Patagonia Founder Has Given Away the $3 Billion Company to Help Combat Climate Change

Yvon Chouinard, who founded the $3 billion company in 1973, announced the move by saying, "Instead of 'going public,' you could say we’re 'going purpose.'"

Yvon Chouinard at 25th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Image via Getty/Craig Barritt

Yvon Chouinard at 25th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Patagonia is under new ownership.

Brand founder Yvon Chouinard announced the news Wednesday, confirming he and his family gave away the $3 billion company in an effort to fight climate change.

The move comes nearly 50 years after the rock climber-turned-billionaire opened the first Patagonia store in Ventura, California. In the following decades, the Chouinards owned and operated the brand as a private, for-profit company that specializes in outdoor gear and apparel. That all changed last month, when the family transferred Patgonia’s ownership to two entities: the Holdfast Collective and the Patagonia Purpose Trust.

According to the New York Times, all of the company’s voting stock (approximately 2 percent of the total) will go into the latter entity, while the remaining 98 percent will go into the Holdfast Collective. The Chouinards will oversee the PPT along with advisers. The trust will ensure the company doesn’t stray from its core values and longstanding commitment to sustainable practices.

Chouinard said all profits that aren’t reinvested into the company will go toward the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis. The Times reports the Chouinards did not receive any tax benefits for the move.

“Earth is now our only shareholder,” Chouinard wrote in his announcement. He went on to add, “While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”

The founder explained he and his family had just a couple options, sell the company or go public. However, both paths came with serious risks.

“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. Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own,” he said. “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.”

You can read the full announcement below.

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