Patagonia founder donates company to fight climate change

Half a century after starting outdoor clothing company Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the reluctant billionaire founder, has donated his company . Instead of selling or taking the company public, the Chouinards and their two adult children transferred ownership to a purpose-built trust and a newly formed nonprofit, Patagonia, worth about $3 billion. They will maintain the independence of the company, ensuring that the roughly $100 million in annual profits are all used to fight climate change and protect undeveloped lands around the world. Chouinard, 83, hopes his approach will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end with a few rich and many poor. The Chouinard family, which previously controlled the company that sells more than $1 billion in jackets, hats and ski pants a year, last month irrevocably transferred all of the company’s voting stock (2% of the total) to a company named A newly established entity for the Patagonia Purpose Trust, a trust fund overseen by family members and advisors to ensure Patagonia lives up to its commitment to running a socially responsible company and donating its profits. The Chouinard family donated all 98% of its common stock to the Holdfast Collective, a new nonprofit that receives Patagonia’s profits to fight climate change. Holdfast Collective is a 501(c)(4) organization with no restrictions on lobbying the legislature, participating in political campaigns and elections, so the Chouinard family does not receive any tax benefits from donations. Yvon Chouinard himself is very frugal, driving a broken car in old clothes and owning no cell phone or computer.

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