The billionaire founder of outdoor fashion brand Patagonia on Wednesday gave his company away. Eighty-three-year-old Yvon Chouinard, known for his stand on environmental issues, in a signed statement on the company's website wrote that he could have either sold Patagonia and donated all the money, or gone public.
Instead, Chouinard, his wife and their two children will transfer all of Patagonia's voting shares, or stock that gives the holder voting rights, in the company to a trust in charge of ensuring the brand's environmental values are respected.
"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," he wrote.
The letter was titled: "Earth is now our only shareholder."
Chouinard elaborated: "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."
Founded by Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is a certified B Corporation based in Ventura, California, US. Patagonia operates its apparel and equipment, food, and related businesses through the following subsidiaries: Patagonia, Inc. (apparel and equipment), Patagonia Provisions (food), Patagonia Media (books, films and multimedia projects), Fletcher Chouinard Designs, Inc. (surfboards), Tin Shed Ventures, LLC (investments), and Worn Wear, Inc. (used and upcycled apparel), and Great Pacific Child Development Center (onsite childcare and development).