Speed Reads

transfer of ownership

Patagonia founder gives up company in fight against climate change

Patagonia founder and billionaire Yvon Chouinard has given his company away to a "set of trusts and nonprofit organizations" that will ensure the company's profits are used to "combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe," The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The unconventional decision is notably in "keeping with [Chouinard's] longstanding disregard for business norms, as well as his "lifelong love for the environment," the Times writes. Patagonia will continue to operate as a private, for-profit corporation, but it will no longer be owned by its original founder.

"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," the 83-year-old Chouinard told the Times. "We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet." 

In August, the Chouinards transferred the company's voting stock to what's known as the Patagonia Purpose Trust, which "is intended to ensure that Patagonia makes good on its commitment to run a socially responsible business and give away its profits," the Times writes. The family will pay about $17.5 million in taxes on the transfer.

The remaining common shares — equivalent to about 98 percent of the company — were then donated to nonprofit Holdfast Collective, which will now receive all of Patagonia's profits and use them to fight climate change. The Chouinards received no tax benefit for this donation.

"I didn't know what to do with the company because I didn't ever want a company," Chouinard said of his decision. "I didn't want to be a businessman. Now I could die tomorrow and the company is going to continue doing the right thing for the next 50 years, and I don't have to be around."