What would you do if faced with a decision to be made about the future of a $3 billion company? Most would consider selling the brand and moving on, or taking it public. But if you’re Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia, you would instead take the radial decision of transferring all of Patagonia’s voting shares, or stock that gives the holder voting rights, in the company to a trust in charge of ensuring the brand’s environmental values are respected.
This move, coming on the eve of Patagonia’s 50th anniversary, should really come as no surprise, since the brand has always been at the forefront of ethical corporations. Patagonia’s business model is different: it rejects fast fashion by creating high-quality, long-lasting products, and offers a repair and reuse program, even going so far as to discourage consumers from purchasing too many of its products, saying “It would be hypocritical for us to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy.”
Explaining his decision to simply give away his $3 billion outdoor apparel company, Chouinard had this to say. “Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people. We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”