by John Russel Jones

According to an open letter on Patagonia’s website, founder Yvon Chouinard is giving his company away.

“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel. 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. If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.”
In the letter Chouinard goes on to say that while he believes the company is doing its best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough.
“Instead of ‘going public,’ you could say we’re ‘going purpose,’” he goes on to say. “We’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.
“100% of the company’s voting stock transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect the company’s values; and 100% of the nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. 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.

“Patagonia’s new owners are the Holdfast Collective and the Patagonia Purpose Trust. The Holdfast Collective owns 98% of the company and all of the nonvoting stock. The Patagonia Purpose Trust owns 2% of the company and all of the voting stock. Nonvoting stock carries economic value but not decision-making authority. Voting stock has both economic value and decision-making authority.

“Ryan Gellert as CEO and the leadership team, together with all of Patagonia’s employees, will continue to run the business under the direction of the board of directors. What’s changed now is that the company has additional stewardship from the Patagonia Purpose Trust.”


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