Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who previously expressed reluctance to accumulate wealth, is giving up his company.
The outerwear company will now be in the hands of a trust and a non-profit organization. All future profits will be donated Help fight climate changeThe company announced on Wednesday.
“It’s been half a century since we started our experiment in responsible business,” said Chounard, 84. “If we hope to have a prosperous planet 50 years from now, it demands that we do everything we can with the resources we have. I don’t want to be a business leader, so I’m doing my part.”
He added, “Instead of extracting value from nature and turning it into wealth, we use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We make the Earth our only partner. I’m serious about saving this planet.”
Patagonia Purpose Trust will control all of the company’s voting shares (2%), while Holdfast Collective, a climate change nonprofit, will hold all of the non-voting shares (98%).
Chouinard, who is currently a board member, said in a statement that while trying to fight climate change, he realized his company was contributing to it. So he was thinking about what to do with the business.
One option is to sell it and donate the money, but Chouinard said he’s concerned the new owners may not hold the same values or keep the same employees. Another option is to become a publicly traded company.
“What a disaster that would have been,” he said. “Even well-intentioned public corporations are under increasing pressure to generate short-term gains at the expense of long-term survival and responsibility.”
The company will continue to give 1% of its revenue to grassroots environmental groups, and the leadership will not change.