American Billionaire & Founder of Outdoor Apparel Patagonia Yvon Chouinard Transfers all $3 Billion Shares to Non-Profit Trust, Contributes All Annual Profits $100 Million to Fight Climate Change
15th September | Hong Kong
American billionaire & founder of outdoor apparel Patagonia Yvon Chouinard has transferred all $3 billion worth of Patagonia shares to a non-profit Trust, and to contribute all annual profits (Now at $100 million) to fight climate change. Patagonia: “Patagonia’s new owners are the Holdfast Collective and the Patagonia Purpose Trust. The Holdfast Collective owns 98% of the company and all of the nonvoting stock. The Patagonia Purpose Trust owns 2% of the company and all of the voting stock. Nonvoting stock carries economic value but not decision-making authority. Voting stock has both economic value and decision-making authority. The Chouinard family will guide the Patagonia Purpose Trust, electing and overseeing its leadership. Family members will continue to sit on Patagonia’s board, along with Kris Tompkins, Dan Emmett, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Charles Conn (chair of the board), and Ryan Gellert, our CEO. The family will also guide the philanthropic work performed by the Holdfast Collective.” See below for 2022 full letter, and an earlier letter in 2013 by Yvon Chouinard.
” American Billionaire & Founder of Outdoor Apparel Patagonia Yvon Chouinard Transfers all $3 Billion Shares to Non-Profit Trust, Contributes All Annual Profits $100 Million to Fight Climate Change “
The Holdfast Collective (Collective for short) will use every dollar received to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities, as quickly as possible. As a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization, the Collective can advocate for causes and political candidates in addition to making grants and investments in our planet. Funding for the Collective will come from Patagonia: Each year, excess profits—money we make after reinvesting in the business (including money we want to save for unforeseen events, like a pandemic)—will be distributed as a dividend to the Collective to be used for its work. The Patagonia Purpose Trust was created solely to protect our company’s values and mission. It owns all of the voting stock of the company, which gives it the right to approve key company decisions, like who sits on the board of directors and what changes can be made to the company’s legal charter, including its reason for being and B Corp commitments.
Letter in 2022 By Yvon Chouinard
Earth is now our only shareholder.
If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a business—it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have.
This is what we can do.
I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel. As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done. If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.
We started with our products, using materials that caused less harm to the environment. We gave away 1% of sales each year. We became a certified B Corp and a California benefit corporation, writing our values into our corporate charter so they would be preserved. More recently, in 2018, we changed the company’s purpose to: We’re in business to save our home planet.
While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.
“Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.”
One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn’t be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed.
Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. 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.
Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.
Instead of “going public,” you could say we’re “going purpose.” Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.
Here’s how it works: 100% of the company’s voting stock transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect the company’s values; and 100% of the nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. The funding will come from Patagonia: Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis.
It’s been nearly 50 years since we began our experiment in responsible business, and we are just getting started. If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a thriving business—50 years from now, it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is another way we’ve found to do our part.
Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.
By Yvon Chouinard
2013 LETTER FROM YVON CHOUINARD
Introducing Patagonia Works, a new kind of holding company
VENTURA, California (May 6, 2013)
I don’t like to think of myself as a businessman. I’ve made no secret that I hold a fairly skeptical view of the business world. That said, Patagonia, the company my wife and I founded four decades ago, has grown up to — by global standards — a medium-size business. And that bestows on our family a serious responsibility. The last line of Patagonia’s mission statement is “…use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” We’ve always taken that seriously.
Three examples: Every year for 30 years, Patagonia has donated one percent of its sales to grassroots environmental organizations. We helped initiate the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an organization of companies that produces more than a third of the clothing and footwear on the planet. In a very short time, the Coalition has launched an index of social and environmental performance that designers (and eventually consumers) can use to make better decisions when developing products or choosing materials. In 2012 we became one of California’s first B Corps (benefit corporations), which means that the values that helped make our company successful are now etched into our legal charter.
Now is the time for Patagonia to take the next logical step: to reach out beyond the framework of the apparel and outdoor industries. Today, my family and I are happy to launch $20 Million and Change, an internal fund to help like-minded, responsible start-up companies bring about positive benefit to the environment.
With the launch of this fund, we have reorganized Patagonia and our other businesses within a new holding company called Patagonia Works. While most holding companies are about diversification, Patagonia Works is dedicated to a single cause: using business to help solve the environmental crisis. Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia Works and Patagonia, Inc, has been instrumental in tripling profits for our company. She is also applying her business acumen and keen sense of social and environmental responsibility to new companies in five critical areas: clothing, yes, but also food, water, energy and waste. Rose has been responsible for the launch of Patagonia Provisions, which will soon expand beyond our smoked sockeye salmon (wild-caught in natal waters by First Nations tribes) to other foods that, like our salmon, are more thoughtfully sourced. The food business is, as much as the apparel or energy industries, environmentally broken. It takes more from the planet than it gives back. We aim to find ways to get what we want to eat by working with nature rather than against it.
Others might see Patagonia Works and $20 Million & Change as revolutionary business ventures; we think both are just next logical steps to doing business more responsibly. Economic growth for the past two centuries has been tied to an ever-spiraling carbon bonfire. Business – and human – success in the next 100 years will have to come from working with nature rather than using it up. That is a necessity, not a luxury as it’s seen now in most business quarters. We invite and encourage all companies to start to work with us in that direction.
To apply for funding or seek information regarding the $20 Million & Change program, please email: [email protected] or call (805) 667-2300.
Founder of Patagonia Works
** NOTE: This letter was updated in July 2014 to reflect Rose Marcario’s status as President and CEO of Patagonia Works and Patagonia, Inc.