Patagonia Billionaire Founder Gives Company Away to Fight Climate Change

by Tia Bailey

The Patagonia owner is making a major move for the environment. The billionaire founder of the company gave it away to fight climate change.

The founder, Yvon Chouinard, has given the company to a trust and a nonprofit organization. Chouinard said in a letter that “Earth is now our only shareholder.” 

“It’s been nearly 50 years since we began our experiment in responsible business, and we are just getting started,” Chouinard said in the letter. “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.”

In his letter, Chouinard shares that the company wanted to do something to help the environment.

“We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”

He stated that one option was to sell the company and donate the money, but calls that move a “disaster.” They then instead came to the conclusion to give the company away.

“Instead of ‘going public,’ you could say we’re ‘going purpose,'” he said. “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.”

The company shared an article about the change to their Twitter. “Hey, friends, we just gave our company to planet Earth. OK, it’s more nuanced than that, but we’re closed today to celebrate this new plan to save our one and only home. We’ll be back online tomorrow,” the tweet read.

Chouinard founded the company nearly 50 years ago. Patagonia is most well-known for its outdoor clothing and goods.

Patagonia ‘Going Purpose’ With New Change in Ownership

Some shared that they think this is a good move with many weighing in on the company’s major decision. One person replied: “Imagine if every billionaire did this. It would be the end of capitalism. Also, I’ll bet it feels fantastic! Those billions have got to be chains weighing down the soul, and most billionaires don’t even realize it, they become addicted instead.”

Chouinard explained how the change will help.

“Here’s how it works: 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.”

Chouinard wrote that we can “save our planet if we commit to it.”