A benchmark in the world of socially responsible business, which has applied the concept of sustainability in its purest sense, turned around yesterday to go even further in its determination. Its founder, Yvon Chouinard, published a letter in which he ‘regulated’ the company to use the money to finance environmental projects.
Thus, he himself, his wife and his two adult children transferred the property of Patagonia, valued at about three billion dollars, to trust and an NGO.
Both were designed to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits (some $100 million a year) are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the world. “The Earth is now our sole shareholder”, is the title of the text that he has posted on the brand’s website.
As explained by the eccentric mountaineer, determined from the beginning to go against the current to demonstrate that “profits and social activism are closely linked in business”, they have evaluated different ways of allocating all the money that Patagonia has amassed in its five decades of existence to the cause of the climate crisis.
Dedicate more money to the climate crisis
Selling the company or going public were not valid options, Chouinard deepens. The first would not ensure that the money went to the desired destination or that the company would retain its corporate purpose, which, after all, has been its hallmark. Valued at about 3,000 million dollars, Patagonia has profits of about 100 million dollars a year and since its creation has been distinguished by its special emphasis on nature conservation.
Chouinard, a climbing lover who became a billionaire thanks to the business he founded in 1973, explained in a statement that he has chosen this path as a way to dedicate more money to the climate crisis and keep “the values of the company”. “If we have any hope of a thriving planet – and a thriving business – 50 years from now, it’s 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,” he said.
As detailed, 100% of Patagonia’s shares with voting rights have been transferred to a trust created to protect the company’s values -controlled by the Chouinard family- and 100% of the titles without voting rights remained in the hands of the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting nature. “Each year, the money we earn after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help combat the environmental crisis,” he added.
Who is Yvon Chouinard?
Yvon Chouinard is an environmentalist, passionate activist, itinerant adventurer, and iconoclastic entrepreneur in the outdoors industry. Yvon Chouinard, 83, who became famous for alpine climbs in Yosemite National Park and has a net worth of $1.2 billion, may have sold the brand, valued at $3 billion, according to The New YorkTimes.
His company, Patagonia, founded in 1973, is known for its environmental and social initiatives. Chouinard is also an avid surfer, skier, kayaker, gardener, and falconer, and is particularly fond of Tenkara fly fishing. He has written on issues of climbing and ethics and on mixing environmentalism with business.
A pioneer climber in Yosemite Valley in the 1960s, Chouinard is not your typical unicorn company founder. In his youth, he reportedly lived out of his car and ate damaged cans of cat food. Today he can be found in his modest homes in Ventura and Jackson Wyoming, dressed in tattered old clothes, driving a Subaru and using neither a cell phone nor a computer.
Chouinard began his career making hardened steel pitons for use in Yosemite Valley in 1957, which he sold out of the back of his car to support his surfing and climbing lifestyle. Around 1970, he realized that the use of steel pitons made by his company, which accounted for 70% of his income, was causing significant damage to the Yosemite crevasses. In response, he introduced new aluminum studs, called Hexentrics and Stoppers, which cannibalized piton sales and led to further success for his business.
Are there others who have donated their wealth?
According to the New York Times, the only person to have done anything on this scale is Barre Seid, a Republican donor, who gave his $1.6 billion Tripp Lite electronics company to a nonprofit run by Leonard Leo, who co-chairs the conservative legal group. the Federalist Society.
The recipient, in that case, was a conservative political advocacy group that has been one of the main architects of conservative efforts to reshape the American judicial system, including by appointing conservative justices to the Supreme Court and increasing efforts funding to stop action on climate change, according to ProPublica.
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