Patagonia Founder Gives Away Company For The Good Of The Planet

The billionaire boss who went the extra mile for the planet

Almost half a century since its inception, Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, has given away his $3 billion company. On September 14, 2022, the owner announced that profits from Patagonia, a sustainable outdoor brand, will be used to save the planet.

All you need to know about the billionaire boss: Yvon Chouinard

patagonia billionaire owner, yvon chouinard
Jeff Johnson / WSJ

Chouinard, who was once an avid rock climber, started as a craftsman and lived out of his car. According to The New York Times, the outdoor apparel owner (even today) drives an old car and has no phone or computer.  

Before getting into the apparel biz with Patagonia, the outdoor industry businessman made climbing gear for his friends and himself.

Yvon Chouinard goes the extra mile to save the planet

The founder has taken this vision further by giving away his entire company to tackle climate change. Mr. Chouinard, his wife, and two adult children have transferred Patagonia’s ownership to a non-profit organization, The Hold Fast Collective, and a specially designed trust called the Patagonia Purpose Trust.

the billionaire boss, Yvon Chouinard
The Guardian

In an open letter to consumers, the entrepreneur said he wanted to do something for the earth. To tackle the serious climate crisis and to protect undeveloped land around the globe, are some of the reasons he took this decision. 

Chouinard told the NYT, “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.” 

However, The New York Times believes Yvon Chouinard could have made the billion-dollar brand public or sold it instead. 

83-year-old Yvon feels both options would mean giving up control of the business. “Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility,” he said. “Truth be told, there were no good options available. So we created our own…,” he stated. 

The profits donated to fight climate change are estimated to be around $100m a year.

About Patagonia

patagonai founder, yvon chouinard
Laure Joliet / The New York Times

Founded in 1973, Patagonia is an American outdoor clothing brand by Mr. Yvon. The brand features — activewear, dresses, tops, bags, duffles, and accessories. One great thing about this outdoorsy, sustainable brand is that you can shop by activity — climbing, surfing, trail running, fishing, swimming, and more. 

Patagonia has been long cherished by those who believe fashion shouldn’t come at the cost of the planet. The cult-followed brand has long been in the news for its sustainable activities, like giving back 1% of its sales to the planet.

Patagonia’s website and Twitter bio have recently been changed to “Earth is now our only shareholder.” 

What’s next for Patagonia?

patagonai founder, yvon chouinard
Ellis Brigham

After giving away their stocks, the planet’s future is only about to get better. The billionaire boss understands the earth’s resources aren’t infinite, and it’s time we do our part. 

Patagonia will continue to be based in California and operate as a private, for-profit corporation. 

This remarkable move by the Chouinards makes the family one of the most charitable business owners in the U.S. 

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