Patagonia founder praised for donating $3 billion company to fight climate change (VIDEO)
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wants you to know that he’s “dead serious” about saving the planet, and he’s doing it with a billion-dollar gesture.
The American rock climber-turned-philanthropist has made the unprecedented move to donate his company to fight climate change, and people are here for it.
“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel,” wrote Chouinard in an open letter titled “Earth is now our only shareholder.” It was posted on Patagonia’s website on Wednesday.
“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.”
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Chouinard championed protecting the environment even before he founded the outdoor apparel brand in 1973.
So, you could say it’s incredibly on-brand for him to be giving away a company valued at $3 billion to combat the climate crisis.
“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough,” the founder wrote. “We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”
How is Patagonia doing this?
Chouinard detailed the different options they considered in the open letter.
The first was to sell Patagonia and donate all of the money, but he says there was no guarantee that the new owner would “maintain [their] values” or even continue to employ their team around the world.
Another option was to make the company public, but he stressed how that could’ve been a “disaster” due to the pressures to turn a quick profit.
So, the company created its own path by giving 100% of its voting stocks to Patagonia Purpose Trust, which was specifically created to protect the brand’s values, and all of its non-voting stocks to the Holdfast Collective, a newly established non-profit environmental organization.
“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,” Chouinard wrote.
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.
Read Yvon’s letter at https://t.co/TolGLfHEGG
— Patagonia (@patagonia) September 14, 2022
According to The New York Times, Chouinard, his wife, and two adult children will pay about $17.5 million in taxes because they donated their shares to a trust.
The Times also reported that the family received no tax benefit for its donation because the Holdfast Collective is a 501(c)(4), a non-profit organization that can make unlimited political contributions.
“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” Chouinard told Times reporter David Gelles in an exclusive interview. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”
“Imagine if every billionaire did this”
Many have praised Patagonia for this monumental move, comparing Chouinard’s actions to other Forbes-ranking billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
This is so incredible.
It also puts Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s billionaire pursuits in sharp perspective. #Patagonia https://t.co/WhAowon7xr
— Aisha Sultan (@AishaS) September 14, 2022
While we are boycotting Tesla and CNN, let’s remember
to buy Patagonia gear with the wet and cold Fall/winter seasons approaching.
— Aunt Eva (@GottaWakeUpPlz) September 14, 2022
Others expressed how they wish other billionaires would follow suit.
Billionaires could be like Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard and use their obscene wealth to save people and the Earth or…they can create insanely elaborate schemes to build bunkers and privates armies to survive the apocalypse. (Seriously. That’s a thing.)
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) September 14, 2022
Imagine if every billionaire did this. It would be the end of capitalism. Also, I’ll bet it feels fantastic! Those billions have got to be chains weighing down the soul, and most billionaires don’t even realize it, they become addicted instead.
— Climate Scientist Peter Kalmus (@ClimateHuman) September 15, 2022
this move by @patagonia sets a precedent. now billionaires who *claim* to be purpose-driven have a clear example to follow.
we should demand nothing less. pic.twitter.com/vOSrSlm6rP
— michael mezz (@michaelmezz) September 15, 2022
What do you think about the brand’s move? Will you be buying Patagonia gear this winter?