Patagonia founder gives company away to environmental trusts

The founder of outdoor gear company Patagonia, long known for environmental activism, says the company is transferring all of its voting shares into a trust “dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.”

In a letter posted on the privately-held company’s website on Wednesday night, founder Yvon Chouinard said the 50-year-old company would transfer 100% of the its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and and 100% of its nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective.

Each year after reinvesting profits back into the company, Chouinard said remaining funds will be distributed as a dividend to the trusts in their ongoing efforts to fight the climate crisis.

Chouinard said the other options for the Ventura, California company to dedicate itself to protecting the planet — selling the company and donating the proceeds; or taking the company public — were not viable for Patagonia’s ultimate goals.

“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,” Chouinard wrote.

Patagonia makes outdoor clothing, gear and accessories for everything from skiing to climbing and camping.

Chouinard said he “never wanted to be a businessman,” and started Patagonia as a craftsman, making climbing gear for himself and his friends.

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