The founder of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, known for his pro-environment stance, wanted to do more for the planet and decided to donate to his company at the age of 83.
Yvon Chouinard was able to sell the brand, which was valued at $3 billion New York TimesOr make it public.
But after agreeing with his wife and two children, he decided to transfer 100% of his shares to a trust responsible for ensuring that his values are respected, and to an organization fighting the climate crisis and protecting nature, making a profit. Donations will be made.
“Earth is now our sole shareholder,” he wrote in a letter posted on the Patagonia site.
“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself before moving on to clothing,” he recalls.
Founded nearly 50 years ago, Patagonia quickly committed itself to protecting the environment, carefully selecting its raw materials or donating 1% of its sales each year to environmental NGOs.
But according to its founder, that was not enough.
“One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we cannot be sure that a new owner will maintain our values and keep all our employees,” he highlighted in his letter.
And taking Patagonia public would have been a “disaster,” he predicted. “Even well-meaning listed companies are under great pressure to generate short-term profits at the expense of long-term vitality and accountability.”
Patagonia will continue to be a company that cares about its financial situation and will work with the Board of Directors and CEO.
The Chouinard family will continue to “guide” the work of the Trust and the Association.