Owner of $3 billion firm gives it all away, to fight climate change

A half-century after founding outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire, has given the company away. Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization.
They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — $100 million a year — are used to combat climate. “Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” Chouinard, 83, said in an exclusive interview. Patagonia will continue to operate as a private, forprofit corporation based in California, selling more than $1 billion worth of jackets, hats and ski pants each year.
But the Chouinards no longer own the company. In August, the family irrevocably transferred all the company’s voting stock, equivalent to 2% of the overall shares, into a newly established entity known as the Patagonia Purpose Trust. The trust, which will be overseen by members of the family and their closest advisers, is intended to ensure that Patagonia makes good on its commitment to run a socially responsible business and give away its profits.
The Chouinards donated the other 98%, its common shares, to a newly established nonprofit organization called the Holdfast Collective, which will now be the recipient of all the company’s profits and use the funds to combat climate change. The Chouinardshave established themselves as among the most charitable families in the country. For Chouinard, it provided a satisfactory resolution to the matter of succession planning. “I didn’t know what to do with the company as I didn’t ever want a company,” he said. “Now I could die tomorrow and the company is going to continue doing the right thing for the next 50 years. ”

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