The founder of the outerwear brand Patagonia, known for its pro-environmental stance, wants to do more for the planet and decided, at the age of 83, to simply donate his company.
Yvon Chouinard could have sold the brand, valued at $3 billion according to the New York Times, or released it to the public.
In agreement with his wife and two children, he decided instead to transfer 100% of their stake in the company into a trust responsible for ensuring that its values are respected, and into an association that combats the environmental crisis and protects nature. To whom the profits will be donated.
“The land is now our only shareholder,” he wrote in a letter posted on the Patagonia website.
“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself before I got dressed,” he recalls.
Founded nearly fifty years ago, Patagonia quickly became involved in protecting nature, meticulously selecting raw materials or donating 1% of its sales each year to environmental NGOs.
But that was not enough, as its founder judged.
One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. “We were not sure that the new owner would maintain our values or retain all of our employees,” he said in his letter.
He expects Patagonia to go public as a “disaster”: “Even well-intentioned listed companies are under great pressure for short-term gains at the expense of long-term vitality and accountability.”
Patagonia will remain a company that cares about its financial health and will work with a board of directors and a general manager.
Chouinard’s family will continue to “steer” the work of the Fund and the Society.
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