Patagonia’s Founder, Yvon Chouinard has given away his billion-dollar business in order to fight climate change. And who said all billionaires are evil?


We’ve always known that Patagonia is committed to looking after the planet and fighting climate change, but Chouinard’s announcement regarding the new ownership of the global company is an unprecedented step in a business’ commitment to the cause. 

‘Not a lot of people understand how serious we are about saving this planet. I’m dead serious,’ Chouinard said.

Who owns Patagonia now?

Effective immediately, all of Patagonia’s nonvoting stock, totalling 98%, has been given to Holdfast Collective, ‘a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature’.

All voting stock, the remaining 2%, has been donated to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, a body created to ensure the company’s strong values and mission are maintained and protected.

Yvon Chouinard and his family will sit on the company’s board and still be heavily involved in the overseeing of decisions made by the trust and the environmental projects run by Holdfast Collective.

Patagonia‘s tagline has today been changed to ‘Earth is now our only shareholder’.

What does all this mean?

Essentially, the Chouinard family no longer owns Patagonia and nearly the entire value of the company is owned by Holdfast Collective, with a small decision-making portion of the company still in trusted hands. 

As part of the change of hands, Patagonia’s committed to giving 100% of the company’s earnings that aren’t reinvested in the business to Holdfast Collective, an estimated $100 million each year. Quite frankly, hauge.

Who is Holdfast Collective?

To be honest, we’re not 100% sure. 

Patagonia’s statement has given a brief insight into what kind of work Holdfast Collective will do with the money, but not a great amount of detail on who the organisation is – and it doesn’t seem to have an online presence. 

Patagonia has said Holdfast Collective is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organisation, an American company structure that makes it a social welfare organisation, whose primary purpose is to promote the general welfare and common good of the community and its people (thanks Wikipedia).

Patagonia’s statement says: 

‘The Holdfast Collective will use every dollar received to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities, as quickly as possible.’

The way 501(c)(4) organisations are structured means that contributions to them are not tax-deductible, so the Chouinard family won’t receive any kickback for their donations. 

But so long as they’re promoting common social good, these organisations have a great deal of legal flexibility including; 

  • ability to make an unlimited amount of donations to political causes
  • being actively involved in political campaigns and elections
  • informing the public about controversial subjects 
  • and attempting to influence legislation relevant to their cause

Why is this happening?

Ultimately, because Yvon Chouinard is throwing everything he has at fighting climate change and wants to ensure his company doesn’t lose its mission of environmental protection. 

‘We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact,’ Chouinard said in his statement. 

Selling to a new private owner or taking the company public were both options that risked the company’s mission and values being lost to the push for profits.

‘Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own,’ Chouinard said. 

‘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.’

We can only imagine the possible impact if all businesses thought like this.


Feature photo thanks to @patagonia