“I didn’t want to be a businessman. Now I could die tomorrow and the company is going to continue doing the right thing for the next 50 years…” said the 83-year-old billionaire Yvon Chouinard in an exclusive interview with New York Times, published Wednesday, September 14th.
The once eclectic rock-climber turned businessman established Patagonia in 1973 with a vision to build environmentally-friendly practices through apparel and gears that elevated the outdoor sports fraternity.
Patagonia’s current valuation is around $3 billion which makes approximately $100 million in profit every year. In August, the family of four, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and his two children decided to donate the entire company to a non-profit organization, Holdfast Collective, to fight climate change.
The company will remain a for-profit organization, and the profits of the company will now be moved to The Patagonia Purpose Trust, which will be overseen by the family. The 98% of common shares of the company have been transferred to the organization, while only the 2% remains with trust with all voting stock. As this non-profit fall under 501(c)(4) rule (where an individual or private organization cannot inure any benefits or exemptions), the family will also be paying a tax of $17.5 million on the “gift”.
Known to be among the first to ascent the North American Wall in Yosemite National Park USA in 1964, Mr. Chouinard has been a pioneer in not only the outdoor sports fraternity but as well as in establishing an environmentally ethical business practice. In an open letter that was published on the company website, he wrote “instead of “going public,” you could say we’re “going purpose”.