Has Time Magazine already picked their person of the year? Have the Nobel Prizes already been assigned?? Can the Pope make someone a saint before they die???
In what can only be described as an absolutely STUNNING and totally unprecedented move, Yvon Chouinard just donated Patagonia to charity.
Not part of it. Not a billion dollars of his own money. The entire company.
As first reported by Yvon to the New York Times, over the last year Yvon has directed his company executives to find the optimal method of using Patagonia’s power and profits to benefit nature. The executives, accountants and bankers considered a number of potential routes. They considered taking the company public with a mission to benefit the world. Yvon rejected this plan out of a fear that Wall Street would somehow find a way to muck up the goals. They considered selling the company outright then simply donating what would presumably be a multi-billion-dollar windfall to a foundation. The first issue with this plan was finding a family or business that could afford the price tag and would then would be able to maintain the brand’s ethos for decades to come.
In the end, Yvon selected a highly unusual option. Highly unusual in that it’s never been done at such a scale and the route he chose actually does NOT give Yvon and his family a huge tax break.
Yvon and his executive team have spent the last year transferring 98% of his private company shares to a newly-formed 501(c)(4) non-profit entity called the Holdfast Collective.
As a 501(c)(4) non-profit, from now on, all of Patagonia’s roughly $100 million in annual profits will go towards fighting climate change.
To reiterate, this has never been done before at such a scale. A multi-billion private company at the top of its success will now operate as a non-profit to benefit humanity, the world, climate, nature. And Yvon Chouinard can stop being a “reluctant” billionaire. He’s no longer a billionaire at all.
Yvon Chouinard was born on November 9, 1938 in Lewiston Maine. When he was 9 years old the family moved to Southern California where Yvon developed a passion for falconry. He began rock climbing at age 14 so he could investigate falcon nests in difficult-to-reach places. Falconry soon took a backseat to rock climbing as Yvon’s driving passion.
Short on funds in the late 1950s, Yvon taught himself blacksmithing so he could make his own climbing tools. His climbing buddies loved the gear and suggested he sell the tools. Thus his first company, Chouinard Equipment was born.
Throughout the 1960s and early 70s, Yvon and a gang of merry climbers famously lived off 50 cents a day while they scaled the world’s tallest and most treacherous rocks. When climbing he would preferred to wear rugby shirts because the high collars protected his neck from the climbing sling. Once again his friends encouraged Yvon to make and sell his own version of climbing attire.
And thus a little company called Patagonia was born. Yvon opened his first Patagonia store in Ventura, California in 1973. Within a few years Patagonia was manufacturing climbing shorts, rain gear, sleeping bags and thick winter jackets.
As you probably know, today Patagonia is known for its ubiquitous fleece jackets that are typically worn by regular people and never tested in the elements of an 10 degree South American mountain climb.