Who is Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard? Net worth and more

Adventurers are most likely familiar with giant outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, but following the news that the company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, is giving away his $3 billion brand, people are eager to learn more about the unconventional entrepreneur.

The move to transfer ownership of the company to a special trust and non-profit organization was made to ensure that Patagonia stays true to its roots and that all profits go towards fighting climate change and protecting the environment.

“Hopefully this will affect a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” the 83-year-old “reluctant businessman” said in an interview with New York Times. “We’re going to give away the maximum amount to people who are actively working to save this planet.”

Keep scrolling to learn more about Chouinard and Patagonia.

Who is Yvon Chouinard?

In the 1960s, Yvon Chouinard was an avid mountain climber who lived in his car and ate cat food to survive. He began making climbing gear and clothing for his friends, then launched Patagonia in 1973. The mission has always reflected Chouinard’s good attitude: The brand has given 1% of sales to environmental causes for decades, according to NEW.

Chouinard “never wanted to be a businessman,” he wrote in a letter to Patagonia customers announcing the plan, and his passion for sustainability never waned even as Patagonia grew. With his distaste for capitalism and his mission to help the environment, he set out to “change the way business was done.” Today, Chouinard remains true to his simplistic roots and has neither a computer nor a mobile phone.

How much are Chouinard and Patagonia worth?

Chouinard’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.2 billion, per Forbes, but he is not happy about it. “I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really pissed me off,” he told the newspaper NEW. “I don’t have $1 billion in the bank. I don’t drive Lexuses.” As for Patagonia, the brand has an estimated value of $3 billion. It sells more than $1 billion in outdoor apparel and gear and generates $100 million in revenue a year.

Where is Patagonia headquartered and is it a privately held company?

Operating out of Ventura, California, Patagonia will remain a private, for-profit business to continue generating wealth that will be used solely to help the environment. “Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term profit at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility,” Chouinard wrote in his letter to clients. “Instead of ‘going public’ you can say we are ‘going purpose’. Instead of extracting value from nature and turning it into wealth for investors, we will use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.”

To do this, the Chouinard family transferred 2% of voting shares to a Patagonia Purpose Trust to oversee and ensure that the brand remains true to its values. The remaining 98% of the family’s shares will go to the new Holdfast Collective nonprofit to fight climate change. The family will pay $17.5 million in taxes on the gift and will receive no tax benefits for the donation to the nonprofit organization.

Who are Yvon Chouinard’s wife and children?

Chouinard has been married to his wife Matilda Chouinard, née Pennoyer, since 1971. They have two children, Fletcher and Clare. Together, they have never wavered in their goal to do good and give away what they can. “This family is way out of line when you consider that most billionaires give away only a small fraction of their net worth each year,” David Callahan, founder of the website Inside Philanthropy, told New York Times.

The Chouinards don’t expect a pat on the back for their generosity either, because for their patriarch it’s just common sense. “I didn’t know what to do with the company because I never wanted a company,” he told the company NEW. “I didn’t want to be a businessman. Now I can die tomorrow and the company is going to continue to do the right thing for the next 50 years and I don’t have to be there.”

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