Patagonia announced new ownership today, nearly 50 years since founder Yvon Chouinard began his experiment in responsible business. Effective immediately, the Chouinard family has transferred all ownership to two new entities: Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. Most significantly, every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet.
The Patagonia Purpose Trust now owns all the voting stock of the company (two percent of the total stock) and exists to create a more permanent legal structure to enshrine Patagonia’s purpose and values. It will help ensure that there is never deviation from the intent of the founder and to facilitate what the company continues to do best: demonstrate as a for-profit business that capitalism can work for the planet.
The Holdfast Collective owns all the nonvoting stock (98 percent of the total stock), and it will use every dollar received from Patagonia to protect nature and biodiversity, support thriving communities and fight the environmental crisis. Each year, profits that are not reinvested back into the business will be distributed by Patagonia as a dividend to the Holdfast Collective to help fight the climate crisis. The company projects that it will pay out an annual dividend of roughly $100 million, depending on the health of the business.
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia founder, former owner, and current board member said:
“It’s been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have. As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.”
Patagonia will remain a B Corp and continue to give one percent of sales each year to grassroots activists. The leadership of the company does not change. Ryan Gellert will continue to serve as CEO and the Chouinard family will continue to sit on Patagonia’s board, along with Kris Tompkins, Dan Emmett, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Charles Conn (chair of the board), and Ryan Gellert. The Chouinard family will also guide the company’s controlling shareholder, the Patagonia Purpose Trust, electing and overseeing Patagonia’s board of directors. They will also guide the philanthropic work performed by the Holdfast Collective. Acting together, Patagonia’s board and the Patagonia Purpose Trust will work for the company’s continued success over the long term while ensuring it stays true to its purpose and values.
Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia and Patagonia board member said: “Two years ago, the Chouinard family challenged a few of us to develop a new structure with two central goals. They wanted us to both protect the purpose of the business and immediately and perpetually release more funding to fight the environmental crisis. We believe this new structure delivers on both and we hope it will inspire a new way of doing business that puts people and planet first.”
“The current system of capitalism has made its gains at an enormous cost, including increasing inequality and widescale uncompensated environmental damage. The world is literally on fire. Companies that create the next model of capitalism through deep commitment to purpose will attract more investment, better employees, and deeper customer loyalty. They are the future of business if we want to build a better world, and that future starts with what Yvon is doing now.” —Charles Conn, chair of the board added
The company shared the news first with its employees in a global town hall event on September 14, 2022. Soon after, the website Patagonia.com was updated to state that 'Earth is now our only shareholder' and to include a letter from founder Yvon Chouinard saying:
"I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman,making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel. As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done. If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.
We started with our products, using materials that caused less harm to the environment. We gave away 1% of sales each year. We became a certified B Corp and a California benefit corporation, writing our
values into our corporate charter so they would be preserved. More recently, in 2018, we changed the company’s purpose to: We’re in business to save our home planet.
While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We need to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.
One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn’t be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed. Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility.
Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own. Instead of “going public,” you could say we’re “going purpose.” 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.
Here’s how it works: 100% of the company’s voting stock has been transferred to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect the company’s values; and 100% of the nonvoting stock has been given to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.
The funding will come from Patagonia: Each year the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis. It’s been nearly 50 years since we began our experiment in responsible business, and we are just getting started.
If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a thriving business—50 years from now, it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is another way we’ve found to do our part.
Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it."