Patagonia founder gives away company to fight climate crisis

STORY: What if instead of “going public,” a business could “go purpose”?

That's the plan for Patagonia's billionaire founder, Yvon Chouinard.

Instead of selling his company or taking it public - he's announced he's giving it away - to a trust that will use its profit to fight the climate crisis.

Chouinard became famous for alpine climbs in Yosemite National Park... and grew a business crafting climbing gear and then apparel in the 1970s.

He built the company to be values-driven, incorporating sustainable materials into apparel and giving away 1% of sales each year.

Now, with a net worth of $1.2 billion, Chouinard is taking the mission a big step further....

by transferring the company’s voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, which he says was created to "protect the company’s values".

In an open letter posted this week to the company’s website, he wrote, "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."

The company’s non-voting stock has been given to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.

Patagonia will continue to operate as a private, for-profit corporation.

But the Chouinard family no longer owns it, according to the New York Times.

It also reported that the structure of this move would mean the family would get no financial benefit - and in fact even face a tax bill from the donation.

Chouinard wrote that, “Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis.”

The trust will be overseen by members of the family.