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Patagonia founder stuns the public after 'giving away' his company: 'Earth is now our only shareholder'

"Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism."

Owner of Patagonia gives away company to fight global warming

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard made waves on Wednesday, when he announced he would be "giving away" his billion-dollar company. 

Chouinard, who founded Patagonia in 1973, announced the move in an open letter. He explained that 100% of the company's voting stock would be transferred into a fund devoted to "fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature."

New York Times reporter David Gelles was the first to break the news. In his story, which immediately went viral on Twitter, Gelles detailed how Patagonia's earnings would directly contribute to the fight against rising temperatures. 

"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," Chouinard, 83, told The Times. "We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet."

Chouinard, his wife, and his adult children owned 100% of the stock, which, in total, is valued at around $3 billion. Now, the company's future earnings will be distributed as a dividend to a nonprofit environmental charity called Holdfast Collective. 

As Chouinard wrote in his open letter, Patagonia isn't "going public." In his mind, the company is "going purpose."

"Earth is now our only shareholder," Chouinard wrote.

The move sparked instant reactions online — especially on Twitter, where commentary poured in from across the worlds of entertainment, politics, and activism.

"Thank You @patagonia for showing the world how to run a business ethically," actress Daryl Hannah tweeted

"It's definitely a Patagonia flex from now," British rapper JME wrote

"Could not be more proud to serve on the board of directors of @patagonia," Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist who serves on Patagonia's board, added. "As of now, Earth is our only shareholder — ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to 'save our home planet.'"

"In a world full of aspiring Jeff Bezos and Elon Musks, be a Yvon Chouinard," political organizer Melanie D'Arrigo wrote

According to Chouinard's letter, Patagonia was already giving away 1% of its annual profits. The New York Times also reported that the Chouinards had recently donated $50 million to the Holdfast Collective, which will now see hundreds of millions more. 

"I feel a big relief that I've put my life in order," Chouinard told the Times. "For us, this was the ideal solution."

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