Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, has decided to give away his company. The decision was made, in part, after Forbes magazine dubbed him a “billionaire,” and then added him to the list of the world’s richest people. Chouinard has publicly announced that the company’s shares will go to a trust, which will generate money to combat climate change.
This, however, is nothing new for the eccentric businessman. His unconventional business philosophy has given way to many notable, and sometimes peculiar, efforts. Namely, he’s started a 1% Tax For The Planet, at Patagonia, which takes one percent of the company’s profits, and then uses those funds to fight climate change.
The way he views himself, too, is out of the ordinary. In an interview with Outside Magazine, Chouinard took offense when a journalist, establishing context for a question, assumed that he had wanted to become a businessman at some point in his life. “Never! All I ever wanted to be was a craftsman.” Following the momentous announcement, he’s made clear that he wants nothing more than to completely and utterly estrange himself from the billionaire title.
Some critics are weary of Chouinard’s intentions, claiming that he decided to transfer the company’s ownership for personal gain. “Founder Yvon Chouinard structured the transfer of his firm in a way that keeps control within the family and avoids taxes,” wrote Devon Pendleton and Ben Steverman for Bloomberg. That being said, Patagonia’s efforts to work against climate change, through political activism and philanthropic contributions, are inconsistent with arguments that Chouinard is entangled in some sort of tax avoidance scheme.
Regardless, he has made substantial contributions towards efforts to fight against climate change. “Earth is now our shareholder,” writes Chouinard, an unprecedented policy that Patagonia now recognizes.