Yvon Chouinard Gives Away Patagonia

Ownership of the $3 billion company split between two new environmental entities

Read time 4 mins

Published Sep 15, 2022

Base editorial team
BASE editorial team BASE writers and editors who live and breathe adventure every day. We love adventure storytelling as much as we love adventure itself.

© Campbell Brewer

Nearly 50 years since founder Yvon Chouinard began his experiment in responsible business, Patagonia announces new ownership. Effective immediately, the Chouinard family has transferred all ownership of the iconic outdoor brand worth $3 billion to two new entities: Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective, meaning that every dollar not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet.

The Patagonia Purpose Trust now owns all the voting stock of the company (two percent of the total stock) and exists to create a more permanent legal structure to enshrine Patagonia’s purpose and values. It will help ensure that there is never deviation from the intent of the founder and to facilitate what the company continues to do best: demonstrate as a for-profit business that capitalism can work for the planet.

The Holdfast Collective owns all the nonvoting stock (98 percent of the total stock), and it will use every dollar received from Patagonia to protect nature and biodiversity, support thriving communities and fight the environmental crisis. Each year, profits that are not reinvested back into the business will be distributed by Patagonia as a dividend to the Holdfast Collective to help fight the climate crisis. The company projects that it will pay out an annual dividend of roughly $100 million, depending on the health of the business.

 

 

We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet

‘It’s been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have,’ says Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia founder, former owner, and current board member.As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.’

Patagonia will remain a B Corp and continue to give one percent of sales each year to grassroots activists. The leadership of the company does not change. Ryan Gellert will continue to serve as CEO and the Chouinard family 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. The Chouinard family will also guide the company’s controlling shareholder, the Patagonia Purpose Trust, electing and overseeing Patagonia’s board of directors. They will also guide the philanthropic work performed by the Holdfast Collective. Acting together, Patagonia’s board and the Patagonia Purpose Trust will work for the company’s continued success over the long term while ensuring it stays true to its purpose and values.

‘Two years ago, the Chouinard family challenged a few of us to develop a new structure with two central goals,’ tells Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia and Patagonia board member. ‘They wanted us to both protect the purpose of the business and immediately and perpetually release more funding to fight the environmental crisis. We believe this new structure delivers on both and we hope it will inspire a new way of doing business that puts people and planet first.’

The company shared the news first with its employees in a global town hall event on September 14, 2022. Soon after, the website Patagonia.com was updated to state that Earth is now our only shareholder and to include a letter from founder Yvon Chouinard.

‘The current system of capitalism has made its gains at an enormous cost, including increasing inequality and wide scale uncompensated environmental damage. The world is literally on fire,’ says Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson who sits on Patagonia’s Board of Directors. ‘Companies that create the next model of capitalism through deep commitment to purpose will attract more investment, better employees, and deeper customer loyalty. They are the future of business if we want to build a better world, and that future starts with what Yvon is doing now.’

Patagonia Campus in Ventura, California. © Kyle Sparks

What Are people Saying?

Damien Huang – President of Cotopaxi:

‘While an incredible and unique model, the move also dares us to challenge our beliefs on how companies are structured and to whom go the spoils of capitalism. In this case, the planet wins, but for entities that may not follow exactly in Patagonia’s footsteps, this direction really prompted some new thinking for me about who prospers as companies thrive. Something tells me this won’t be the last time we see that Patagonia has opened doors to new ways of doing business.’

Kristine Tompkins – President of Tompkins Conservation and UN Environment Patron and wife of the late Doug Tompkins (co-founder of The North Face)

Today, my close friend and the founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard, made history by announcing a bold & visionary plan to protect the future of the company AND the planet that will make Patagonia one of the world’s top environmental funders!  

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