Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire founder of the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, said he is giving away the company to a trust that will use its profit to fight the climate crisis.
Instead of selling the company or taking it public, Chouinard, who became famous for alpine climbs in Yosemite National Park and has a net worth of US$1.2 billion, is transferring his family’s ownership of the company to a trust and a non-profit organisation.
“Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis,” he wrote in an open letter on the company’s website.
“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.”
Patagonia will continue to operate as a private, for-profit corporation but the Chouinard family, which controlled the company until last month, no longer own the company, according to the New York Times.
The company’s voting stock is being transferred to the Patagonia Purpose Trust while non-voting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. The trust will be overseen by members of the family.
“It’s been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have,” Chouinard said.
“As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.”
While rich individuals often make financial contributions to causes, the New York Times said the structure of the Patagonia founder’s action meant he and his family would get no financial benefit – and in fact would face a tax bill from the donation.
- Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, of Reuters. Additional reporting, Inside Retail.