When the billionaire founder of Patagonia gave away the company, the future profits were earmarked to fight climate change. But the company's new owership model — called a perpetual purpose trust — is already being used today to achieve a range of virtuous visions.
In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Senior Economic Justice Correspondent Oscar Perry Abello about his years of covering the “perpetual purpose trust” model for ownership, in which businesses are owned by ideas, not people.
We also meet a bakery owner who transformed his business into a purpose trust and shared the profits with his employees. And we're introduced to a real estate venture using the model to ensure community ownership and curb gentrification. Plus, we meet two experts who are helping businesses convert into purpose trusts. Everyone agreed the Patagonia example is driving new interest in alternative ownership.
“So examples really resonate with people — real life examples,” says Peter Koehler, managing director of Forcefield Capital, which is helping businesses make the transition to a trust model. “You can talk all day about steward ownership or trust ownership or employee ownership. But when you can point to a company that everyone knows and you say, hey, look at this, this is what they did. There's a reason why The New York Times and Bloomberg are writing about this and they didn't write about it when smaller, lesser known companies were doing a similar thing.”