Yvon Chouinard, the owner of apparel brand Patagonia, has decided to give away his company – valued at $3 billion – to help fight climate change and protect the environment. 

“Earth is now our only shareholder”, the company’s Twitter bio reads, following the decision to donate everything for a good cause. 

Who is Yvon Chouinard?

Chouinard is an American rock climber, environmentalist, and outdoor industry businessman, whose company has been known for its environmental focus. He’s also a surfer, kayaker, and falconer, besides being a fan of the Japanese style of tenkara fly-fishing. 

Born on November 9, 1938, in Lewiston, Maine, Chouinard has French-Canadian ancestry. He and his family moved to Southern California in 1947, and his early climbing partners include Royal Robbins and Tom Frost. 

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In his youth, Chouinard founded the Southern California Falconry Club, as a Sierra Club member, and his investigation of the falcons led him to rock climbing. To make his process more efficient and cost-effective, Chouinard taught himself to be a blacksmith, started making his own tools, and eventually launched a business.

He started as one of the primary figures during the Golden Age of Yosemite Climbing and was a proponent of style being the most important basis of modern-day rock climbing. Using the same principles, Chouinard managed to become an alpinist as well, climbing mountains in Pakistan and scaling the European Alps.  

Chouinard’s initial business venture, Chouinard Equipment Ltd, saw some revolutions in rock climbing, with the introduction of new aluminium chockstones, which protected Yosemite from more cracks caused by climbers. This patent was granted to Chouinard and his business partner Frost. Later, the company had to file for bankruptcy. 

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However, Patagonia has to be his most successful venture. It began in 1970 when Chouinard understood a need for rugged technical clothing after his sale of rugby shirts in Scotland went off wonderfully. Since then, the company has been a strong environmental advocate, even calling for climate change deniers to be removed from office. Chouinard has written on issues like climbing, ethics, as well as mixing environmentalism and business. 

He married Malinda Pennoyer in 1971, and the couple has two children – a son named Fletcher, and a daughter, Claire.