Who is Yvon Chouinard? Patagonia founder gives away $3B company to combat climate change

'Earth is now our only shareholder,' Chouinard posted on the company's website

Who is Yvon Chouinard? Patagonia founder gives away $3B company to combat climate change
Patagonia is now owned by two environmental organizations, Yvon Chouinard announced (Michael M Santiago/Getty Images)
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VENTURA, CALIFORNIA: Celebrated philanthropist and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard surprised everyone after he announced that he handed over his company to environmental organizations. The 83-year-old outdoor gear company boss expects that the move will bring around $100 million a year to help fund the two groups propagating climate change. The unprecedented move has won widespread appreciation for the billionaire.

"Earth is now our only shareholder," posted Chouinard on the company’s website, after transferring Patagonia stocks to Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. In a statement, Chouinard said, "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.”

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From now on, Holdfast Collective group will hold the chunk of Patagonia stock, around 98%, and will receive all the profits that won’t be reinvested in the company. The organization that Chouinard established in 1973 will be dedicated to fighting environmental challenges and supporting communities. He said, "We will use every dollar received from Patagonia to protect nature and biodiversity, support thriving communities, and fight the environmental crisis.”

The company’s official statement read, “Patagonia's leadership will stay the same, and Chouinard family members will continue to serve on the board.” Patagonia was started by Chouinard nearly 50 years ago out of his fondness for mountaineering and then expanded to his other interest areas. It also set the benchmark for sustainable sourcing, using organic cotton, and thoughtful workers' benefits, such as onsite childcare facilities.

As per the stats, Patagonia is valued at around $3 billion and sells a wide range of products, from ski jackets to sustainably sourced salmon jerky. Always concerned with environmental issues, the company donates 1% of its annual profits in this direction.

Furthermore, the Chouinard family will pay around $17 million gift tax on the stock donated to the Holdfast Collective, the Time reported. "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 said. "We can save our planet if we commit to it."

The announcement generated several responses on Twitter, with many sharing their appreciation for Chouinard. One said, "Why I'm a proud customer for decades. (even if I can only afford the sales)." “That’s for being the leader of the pack yet again! You always strive for excellence!!” another wrote. An admirer commented, “Thank you @patagonia  ! We need more like you to help keep our planet habitable!” Another chimed in, “Forever grateful to this visionary and warrior for our home planet. Now let’s each do our part to curb the crisis we face.”

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