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Patagonia Founder Gives Away Company

The beloved outdoor and gear outfitter Patagonia is facing new ownership. But rather than sell the company, billionaire owner and rock climber Yvon Chouinard is instead giving it away.


Chouinard, his wife, and two adult children have transferred the ownership of Patagonia, which is valued at about $3 billion, to a set of trusts and nonprofit organizations created to keep the company independent. The trusts will ensure that all of the company's profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land worldwide.


Chouinard explained the decision on Patagonia's website, declaring the earth is the company's only shareholder, and adding: "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."


Given that Chouinard started from humble beginnings, the move makes sense. As a rock climber in the '60s, he lived out of his car and ate dinged cans of cat food, and today he wears old clothes and drives a battered Subaru.


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