5 years after claiming that ‘We’re in business to save our home planet’, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has followed through on his promise by donating his company to the earth. Chouinard founded Patagonia in 1973, and his values have always been central to the company. The company also donates 1% of its profits to charity each year and promotes an environmentally friendly business model, even going so far as to encourage customers not to buy Patagonia clothing new and instead reuse old ones.
In his open letter to stakeholders, it was clear that in selling the company Chouinard wanted to ensure both the financial success of the company and the charitable success of his donations. According to Chouinard, ‘there were no great options available to us, so we created our own.’
Chouinard decided to sell his businesses to two different entities. The first entity, the Patagonia Purpose Trust, received all off the voting stock which is equivalent to 2% of the company. The Chouinard family received nothing from this sale and paid $17.5 million in taxes.
However, by doing this Chouinard believes he and his family can ‘maintain our values’. The Patagonia Purpose Trust’s board will include the Chouinard family as well as directors equally committed to the success of the company and the planet.
As well as this, 100% of the non-voting shares will go to the Hold Fast Collective. These shares are equivalent to 98% of the company and will receive 100% of the profit. The Hold Fast Collective is a non-profit organization that advocates for clause and political candidates that fight for the environment. Patagonia expects to generate $100 million in profit to help the Hold Fast Collective.
Chouinard closed his statement with a message of hope: ‘Despite its immensity, Earths resources are not infinite, and it is clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.’ Chouinard has set an example for all companies and governments, and one can only hope that his example is followed in time.